An Ex-Roommate of Santos Emerges With New Allegation

Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha says congressman was the one behind his 2017 ATM fraud scheme
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2023 7:20 AM CST
Ex-Roommate: Santos Was Behind My ATM Fraud Scheme
Rep. George Santos, R-NY, leaves a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan. 25.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

A man convicted of fraud in a 2017 credit card skimming scheme in Seattle is now blaming a familiar name for setting the entire operation up. "I am coming forward today to declare that the person in charge of the crime of credit card fraud when I was arrested was George Santos/Anthony Devolder," Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha wrote. His declaration was dated Tuesday and submitted by his lawyer to Secret Service and FBI offices in New York, as well as the US Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York, per Politico.

Trelha, who pleaded guilty to felony access device fraud and was deported to Brazil in early 2018 after spending seven months behind bars, says he first met Santos in 2016, when he rented a room in Santos' apartment in Winter Park, Florida. It was there, Trelha says, where Santos "taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards," he notes. "He gave me all the material and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines," Trelha claims. He notes Santos had an Orlando warehouse where he kept "a lot of material—parts, printers, blank ATM and credit cards to be painted and engraved with stolen account and personal information."

After he was adequately trained, Trelha says, he relocated to Seattle, where he set up an ATM skimming operation that he claims was a 50-50 deal with Santos. "It didn't work out so well, because I was arrested," Trelha writes in his declaration, noting that Santos visited him in a Seattle jail, warned him not to finger Santos in the crime, and threatened Trelha's friends in Florida. Trelha also claims Santos "stole the money that I had collected for my bail." Last month, CBS News reported that Santos had been questioned in the case but not charged, though the probe remains open. Unsurprisingly, Santos is pushing back at the story, and he has a "simple answer" in response.

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"The newest insanity published by politico is categorically false," he wrote Thursday night on Twitter. "Any news organization willing to do good Journalism I'll entertain sitting down with you and go over it all." The congressman also on Thursday offered to co-sponsor a bill that's designed to keep him from profiting once he's no longer in office, per Axios. The "No Fame for Fraud" legislation, sponsored by a fellow Republican from Long Island, would bar members of Congress convicted of particular crimes from making money off of speeches, books, and other methods once they leave Capitol Hill. The outlet notes that Santos is currently under multiple investigations, including one launched last week by the House Ethics Committee. (More George Santos stories.)

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