Gay U.S. Rep. George Santos, who represents parts of New York, has been accused of being behind a credit card skimming scheme in Seattle back in 2017, according to a man who was convicted of the fraud.
Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha made the allegations in a sworn declaration to authorities on Wednesday, Politico reports. After his conviction, Trelha was deported to Brazil in 2018.
“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,” he wrote in the declaration that was sent to the FBI, the Secret Service’s New York office as well as the U.S Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York.
Trelha declared that he decided to come forward after seeing Santos in the news, the outlet reports. He never told law enforcement about Santos, he wrote, because he feared that Santos would help authorities deport his friends.
Santos has previously referred to Trelha as a “family friend,” according to CBS News.
“Santos taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards. He gave me all the materials and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines,” Trelha said in the declaration.
The scheme involved taking ATM numbers from tourists visiting Seattle’s Pike Place Market, then sending them to Brazil.
Trelha had previously rented a room in Santos’s apartment in Florida, Politico reports. In the declaration, Trelha said that Santos used a warehouse in Orlando to keep the equipment used to skim the cards.
“He had a lot of material — parts, printers, blank ATM and credit cards to be painted and engraved with stolen account and personal information. Santos gave me at his warehouse, some of the parts to illegally skim credit card information. Right after he gave me the card skimming and cloning machines, he taught me how to use them,” Trelha said.
Trelha then went to Seattle where he was caught on camera taking away the skimming device.
After his arrest, Trelha said that Santos promised to help him make bail and to find him a lawyer. He said Santos did neither of those things.
Santos has repeatedly lied about his past — including attending college, working at top companies, owning properties, and ancestry. He’s also under investigation for his finances by local and federal authorities. Brazil is also investigating him again in a fraud case. The House Ethics Committee announced its own investigation into Santos for alleged sexual misconduct and other “unlawful activity.”
While Santos says he did lie about parts of his biography, he maintains that he never broke the law.
The lawmaker has been questioned by the Secret Service as part of the investigation into the scheme previously, according to CBS News. The Secret Service investigates crimes against the country’s financial system.
Trelha said Santos was behind the operation, but Santos has said that he was an informant in it.
Santos was never charged in the case.
The investigation into the ATM skimming scheme remains open, according to Politico.