The US Secret Service has received and is reviewing a sworn statement from a Brazilian national who claims that MP George Santos is “responsible”. fraud scheme That led to the arrest of a man in 2017 for installing skimmers at an ATM in Seattle, a person familiar with the matter confirmed to CBS News.
Santos was interviewed by Secret Service investigators in 2017, and the investigation remains open, according to two sources.
AT Smith, the former deputy director of the Secret Service, said the declaration was “significant” news.
“Could this trigger a new investigation?” Yes,” said Smith, now a law enforcement analyst for CBS News. “Perhaps whatever the service wants to do, they should interview the person again and take the oath themselves.”
The declaration was obtained and published by Politico. In the document, Gustavo Ribeiro said Trelha Santos taught him how to use skimmers, which steal personal information from ATM cards, while they were roommates near Orlando, Florida.
“I am coming forward today to announce that George Santos / Anthony Devolder is the person responsible for the credit card fraud at the time of his arrest,” Trelha wrote, referring to the name Santos previously used in the declaration. The declaration was submitted by Trelha’s attorney to the Secret Service, the US Attorney’s office and the FBI.
Trelha was arrested at Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 2017 and later that year pleaded guilty to one count of federal felony wire fraud and was deported to his native Brazil. On the night of his arrest, investigators found an empty FedEx package in Trelha’s rental car with Santos’ Florida apartment address on it, leading investigators from two agencies, the Seattle Police Department and the Secret Service, to Santos. The Secret Service is a federal agency that investigates credit and debit card fraud.
A law enforcement source said Santos was interviewed by phone by a Seattle detective, later tracked down by Secret Service agents in New York and turned over two cell phones during the interview, according to two sources familiar with the federal investigation.
Santos was not charged and was not named as a suspect in the investigation. Santos declined to discuss the case. Santos’ attorney did not respond to questions about Trelha’s statement.
At Trelha’s bail hearing in May 2017, Santos traveled to Washington state to represent Trelha. Santos described himself as a family friend and told the judge that he was an aspiring politician who worked for the investment firm Goldman Sachs. After being elected to Congress a few years later, he admitted that he had never worked for a financial firm.
But Trelha told a different story in his declaration, saying Santos “stole” the money Trelha’s family had sent as bail, and he portrayed Santos as the mastermind of the operation.
“Santos taught me how to scan card information and clone cards. He gave me all the materials and taught me how to put scanning devices and cameras in ATMs,” Trelha said in the declaration.
In his affidavit, Trelha wrote that Santos went to the Orlando warehouse “with a lot of material – parts, printers, empty ATMs and credit cards that were painted and had stolen account and personal information on them.”
The warehouse “must have been exhausted” by investigators, Smith said, adding that if there was a record of Santos renting the storage space, “that would add some credence to the declaration.”