For Immediate Release
Tampa Man Sentenced to Over Five Years for Manufacturing Counterfeit Credit Cards, Fake Ids, and Illegal Firearms
Tampa, Florida – U.S. District Judge James S. Moody, Jr. has sentenced Michael Prime (40, formerly of Brandon) to 5 years and 10 months in federal prison for access device (credit card) fraud, identity theft, and possession of a firearm as a convicted felon. Prime was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine. He had pleaded guilty on December 12, 2019.
According to court documents, on September 29, 2018, law enforcement officers searched Prime’s residence in Tampa. Prime, a multiple-convicted felon, unlawfully possessed firearms and ammunition. While searching Prime’s residence, law enforcement officers seized 1,774 counterfeit credit and debit cards; 1,490 blank cards, some of which contained magnetic stripes and credit or debit card chips; 37 counterfeit driver licenses and IDs; counterfeit Social Security card templates; sheets of holograms used for manufacturing credit cards, debit cards and IDs; counterfeit chips for credit and debit card manufacturing; and printers and engravers (including a credit card printing machine and 3D printers). A search of Prime’s electronic equipment resulted in the discovery of hundreds of additional credit and debit account numbers, images of approximately 32 driver licenses and ID cards, driving permits from approximately 12 different issuing states, a counterfeit United States Army ID card purportedly for a lieutenant colonel, 5 images of Canadian driver licenses, 2 Portuguese citizen identification cards and the image of a counterfeit Republic de Angola passport, 5 images of Social Security cards, and 4 images of a counterfeit $100 U.S. Federal Reserve note.
Investigators learned that Prime sold “ghost guns” (untraceable firearms) that he manufactured and advertised for $1,500 on the Dark Web, along with counterfeit credit cards and fake IDs. He also sold counterfeit credit cards on the website Republic of Lampeduza, which facilitated the commission of credit card fraud by hosting, receiving, and selling stolen credit and debit card account information resulting from online breaches.
In total, investigators seized approximately 5,493 access (credit card) devices from Prime, including credit card account numbers, debit card account numbers, and Social Security numbers. As a previously convicted felon, Prime is prohibited from possessing a firearm or ammunition under federal law.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mandy Riedel.