Prison for credit card forger


An Italian man who was creating a sophisticated fake credit card factory in Queenstown has been jailed
for two years.

Norberto Ferraino, 26, was caught when he placed an order with an Auckland manufacturer for a card
printer and blank plastic cards with magnetic strip.

Police, acting on a tip-off from a suspicious employee at the firm, raided Ferraino’s home in March.

Officers found a complex card cloning unit and manufacturing operation.That included a machine that reads information from the magnetic strip on the back of credit cards and writes it to a new, cloned card.

There was also a professional card printer, a card embosser, a card ‘tipper’ used to create card designs, and a laptop with cloning software.

Ferraino had more than 200 plastic bank and identity cards - some blank, some at the start of the process, others
fully coloured with emblems attached and security numbers on them.

Identity cards included a photo driver’s licence for a Mark Santos, from Florida, United States, and four credit
cards in that name.

Ferraino also had a leather pouch containing 15 legitimate credit cards in his own name from most leading New
Zealand banks and a blank BMW master card.

A courier bag, dated October 17, addressed to ‘Mark Sanchecz’ was found with packets of American Express and Visa credit card emblem stickers.

A flash drive in the bedroom held credit card and identity profiles, including fake New Zealand driver’s and Fish and Game licences, the majority belonging to United States-based customers.

PIN and personal details of the customers, including their full names, residential address, dates of birth and contact numbers were also found.

Ferraino was sentenced to two years in prison by Judge Bernadette Farnan at the resort’s district court on Tuesday.

The Italian had worked as a croupier at one of Queenstown’s casinos but lost his job last year.

Farnan says he was financially stressed because he hadn’t been able to find other employment and became
disillusioned, so started spending a lot of time on the computer.

That was where he came into contact with someone who encouraged him to “become involved in this type of
criminal activity”.

Defence counsel Rachel Napier says Ferraino’s offending wasn’t sophisticated, but naive.

“Because the supplier became suspicious because of the questions being asked [it] points to this not being a
sophisticated operation, but the defendant is really somebody who’s unsophisticated in terms of this type of offending.

“He didn’t know what the right questions were to ask … he wasn’t familiar with the terminology used in the industry.”

Napier says the cards located at the property weren’t of a high quality and Ferraino “really has no practical skills in this field”.

“He seemed to be … out of his depth in terms of being able to produce high-quality cards.”

Farnan says she accepts there was a degree of naivety, but questioned if that was because he’s been “found out”.

Farnan says: “On the face of it, there’s clearly sophistication in terms of the defendant’s actions.

“He took steps to either find out himself or respond to an approach to him regarding this type of offending.

“He was in contact with a firm in Auckland that provided equipment … it clearly was not everyday equipment.”

Farnan contends Ferraino wouldn’t have ordered that “without having some level of bad intention”.

She didn’t accept any suggestion he didn’t intend to use the fake cards.

Farnan took into account his guilty plea, remorse, and lack of previous convictions but she stopped short of converting his prison sentence to home detention because his visa has expired, so he would be immediately deported if given that sentence rather than jail.

“I have found that the purposes and principles of sentencing will not be met by a sentence other than a full-time
custodial one.”

Ferraino was also sentenced to six months for dishonestly using a document, after using a creidt card in Santos’ name to book accommodation. The owner of that card, back in the US, was unaware the card was being used.

The six-month sentence will be served concurrently with the two years and he will be deported on release.