Today’s news:

Suspects take very short trip to DA’s office

Two Brooklyn men were arrested last week outside Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s offices in Kew Gardens and charged with attempting to use stolen credit cards to buy several thousand dollars in gift cards at a Kew Gardens Duane Reade with the help of a store employee who turned out to be an undercover State Police investigator, the DA’s office said Friday.

“The defendants could not have made it any easier for the investigators involved in the undercover operation to effectuate their arrest,” Brown said of Brooklyn residents Carl Dupiton, 21, of 110 Lenox Road, and Garry Rey, 22, whose last known address was 135 Hawthorne St. “As part of the sting, the defendants were instructed to go to the Duane Reade store located in the lobby of the building which houses the Queens district attorney’s office.”

Two Duane Reade employees were approached in December by someone who contacted them through their Facebook accounts, asking them to help him in using stolen credit card information to purchase gift cards, Brown said.

The man told one of the employees, “Do U wanna make 300 a week while @ work? I want [you] 2 ring me up as I buy gift cards on credit gwap [a street term for illegal credit cards].”

The employees told their boss about the offer, who then alerted the Queens DA’s office to the scheme.

Dupiton and Rey were arraigned last week in Queens Criminal Court on charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument, attempted grand larceny, commercial bribing, petit larceny and scheme to defraud, the DA said.

Rey was ordered held without bail and Dupiton’s bail was set at $150,000, Brown said.

Rey and Dupiton, who face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the charges, were ordered to return to court Feb. 17, the DA said.

“The early reporting by Duane Reade Pharmacy’s employees of the scheme to buy thousands of dollars worth of gift cards with stolen credit cards was key to this arrest operation,” said State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico. “This shows the importance of the public’s role in assisting law enforcement in efforts to prevent this and other types of fraud.”

The State Police then told one of the employees to contact the man, Carlito Escobar Bigante, who was the undercover investigator, ´╗┐and tell that the employee would not be available to help him but that he had a friend who would participate in the scheme, Brown said.

Between Jan. 20 and Feb. 1, the undercover investigator had more than 10 phone conversations with “Carl,” during which Carl told him that he worked with a friend and that they purchased “credit gwap” and would bring the gwap to a store with a cooperating employee, who would run the cards through the register without requesting identification, the DA said.

Carl allegedly told the investigator they would spend as much as $3,000 a day in gift cards and that the investigator’s payment would be based upon how many cards could be run in a day but that he could probably earn $300, Brown said.

On Jan. 31, the investigator contacted Carl and told him he would be working the next day at the Duane Reade at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road in Kew Gardens, the DA said.

On the afternoon of Feb. 1, Dupiton — who matched the photo on Carlito Bigante’s Facebook page — entered and walked around the Duane Reade and left, Brown said.

A short time later, Rey allegedly entered the store and approached the investigator, saying he was “Carl’s man,” Brown said.

Rey then allegedly followed the undercover investigator to a register and placed several eBay and PayPal gift cards that could be activated once payment had been received, the DA said.

State Police investigators seized 18 eBay and PayPal gift cards worth $3,350 from Rey as well as credit and debit cards he had purportedly used at the store, Brown said.

Allegedly all but one of the cards was in the name of Garry Rey was different from the account numbers on the magnetic strip on the back of the card, the DA said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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