George Santos Ran Credit Card Skimming Operation, Former Roommate Says

Would it surprise you to learn that George Santos has been accused of yet another crime?
Congressman George Santos (R-NY) arrives in Congress for the State of The Union address on February 7, 2023 in Washington DC, United States. (Nathan Posner/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

New York GOP Rep. George Santos was the brains behind a scheme to clone and skim ATM and credit cards, a man who was convicted of the crime six years ago said this week in a declaration to federal investigators

Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha, a Brazilian national who was deported from the U.S. after his conviction, said in the declaration to the FBI, the Secret Service, and a U.S. attorney in New York that Santos “taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards” Trelha, Santos’ former roommate, offered to fully cooperate with investigators. The declaration was obtained and first reported by Politico.


Trelha’s allegation is just the latest leveled at Santos, who was elected to Congress in November and has since been accused of several crimes, as well as repeatedly lying about his background. He is currently the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation

Trelha said in the declaration that he met Santos, whom he knew as Anthony Devolder, in 2016 when he rented a room in Santos’ Florida apartment. 

“That is when and where I learned from him how to clone ATM and credit cards,” Trilha said in the signed declaration. “Santos taught me how to skim card information and how to clone cards. He gave me all the material and taught me how to put skimming devices and cameras on ATM machines.”

Santos said in a tweet late Thursday that the “newest insanity published by politico [sic] is categorically false.” 

Trelha alleged that Santos had a warehouse in Orlando with the materials for the operation, and Trelha later flew to Seattle and “started working to steal credit card information from ATM terminals.” Trelha said that his deal with Santos was to split the take, but: “It didn’t work out so well, because I was arrested.”

Trelha pleaded guilty to felony fraud charges and served seven months in prison before being deported to Brazil in 2018, Politico reported. Santos appeared at a 2017 arraignment for Trelha and told the judge presiding over Trelha’s case that he was a “family friend,” Politico reported. 


Trelha said that Santos came to Seattle and visited him in jail, and threatened him and his friends to not implicate him in the scheme. “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,” Trelha wrote, saying he had witnesses who could back up his statements. 

“Santos did not help me get out of jail,” Trelha added. “He also stole the money that I had collected for my bail.” 

The Secret Service, which investigates certain financial crimes, questioned Santos in 2017 as part of an investigation into the ATM card case, CBS News reported last month. Santos reportedly voluntarily surrendered two cell phones at the time. 

Santos has been accused of committing fraud a number of times since November, though he has not been charged. A New Jersey veteran has claimed that Santos raised money for his dying dog on GoFundMe and then refused to hand the money over. In another case, in which charges were filed against Santos but later dropped, he was accused of writing bad checks to Amish farmers from whom he allegedly bought. 

The House Ethics Committee probe will investigate potential campaign finance violations during Santos’ 2022 campaign and allegations he sexually harassed a former aide, among other issues, the committee announced earlier this month

Santos has admitted to embellishing his resumé but has maintained he hasn’t committed any crimes. He resigned his two House committee assignments earlier this year, but has said he won’t resign from Congress. 

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Santos’ congressional office told VICE News that the new allegation of fraud “is not a congressional matter” and referred questions to Santos’ lawyer, Joe Murray. Murray did not respond to a request for comment from VICE News. 

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