PROVIDENCE, RI — A Providence man has admitted in federal court that he participated in a construction supply scam defrauding home improvement stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts of more than $140,000, repeatedly purchasing construction tools and supplies using stolen credit and credit card information.
The guilty plea was announced Monday by United Sates Attorney Zachary A. Cunha.
Appearing before U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith, Jose Brens, 40, pleaded guilty to an indictment charging him with conspiracy to commit access device fraud and seven counts of access device fraud.
Brens admitted to the court that he and others unlawfully obtained credit card information that was used to purchase tools and building products from at least six Home Depot and Lowes stores in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Breen admitted that he defrauded Home Depot stores of $140,578, according to Cunha’s office.
According to court documents, in September 2018, a Smithfield resident contacted the Smithfield Police Department to report that his credit card information has been fraudulently used to purchase $2,100 worth of construction items and tools at a Home Depot in Smithfield. A joint investigation with the United States Secret Service determined that members of conspiracy carried out this and similar schemes in multiple stores, repeatedly making purchases of between $1,000 and $4,000, sometimes making multiple purchases on the same date.
Brens is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge William E. Smith on March 17, 2022. Conspiracy to commit access device fraud and access device fraud are punishable by statutory penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison to be followed by a term of supervised release of 3 years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.