How a 16-Year-Old Pulled Off $2.8 Million in Credit Card Fraud (2024)

Elliot Castro was just 16 when he got into credit card fraud. Over the next five years, he racked up $2.8 million of illegally purchased Rolex watches, cars, meals at top-end restaurants, and stays at five-star hotels across Europe.“I must’ve made thousands of transactions over the time I was doing this,” Castro told VICE in 2020, part of the documentary series Fakes, Frauds & Scammers, which features various scammers who open up about their dark pasts.


Castro credits his stealing streak to being young and “not giving a f*ck.” “Like most teenagers, I thought I knew everything. I did some pretty sh*tty things,” he said.According to Castro, he “accidentally” stumbled into fraud when he found a credit card on the train as a young teen in Glasgow. Without much thought, he used it to pay for his train tickets to and from school. When he got caught, though, he just kept going.Dropping out of school and lying about his age, Castro secured a job at a mobile phone company. He began stealing credit card information from customers calling in to make purchases. “Once I realized the potential of what was happening,” he said, “the sky was the limit.”Castro began traveling, dining at the best restaurants, and making luxurious purchases. “When you’re at that age, and you don’t have many friends, and you just want people to like you, that’s when you just think, ‘Well, if money talks and I know that it gets attention, then that’s what I’m going to do,’” he rationalized.

Castro confessed that the most he spent in one night was around $15,000 at a nightclub. However, amid all his excessive and fraudulent spending, he never truly believed he would get caught. Now, he says his naivety was the exact reason for his downfall.“It all went wrong when I got greedy and careless, as these stories so often end,” he said.Despite not having a driver's license, Castro attempted to buy a BMW 7 Series. He said his goal was merely to impress those around him. But when he placed the order for the car, suspicions were raised, which ultimately led to his being caught.


“I had a wallet filled with credit cards with different names,” he said. “There was absolutely no way I was talking myself out of this one. That was it. That was the end.”


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By age 21, Castro served prison terms in Britain, Ireland, and Canada—all for fraud. The Canadian prison was his low point. While he was there, he witnessed gruesome stabbings and other horrible incidents that stripped any innocence left in him.“That was the worst place I’ve ever been in my entire life,” he said. “I spent my first week there crying.”However, his scamming still wasn’t over.When he was deported from Toronto to the UK, Castro managed to escape authorities’ watch. Before his flight, he made a call to Canadian immigration pretending to be from the British Embassy. They told him they’d been asked to inform Detective Eastgate at Scotland Yard when Castro left so Eastgate could retrieve him once he landed in the UK.“I just said, ‘Well, that’s OK. I’ll take care of that for you,’” Castro said.As a result, when Castro landed, no one was waiting for him. Still, he had no money to get back to Glasgow. Continuing his streak, he called the airline to retrieve the credit card number used for his flight back to Scotland. With the Canadian Immigration card information on hand, he booked a ticket back to his home city.“I thought that was it,” he said. “I thought, ‘I can’t believe it. I’ve managed to escape again.’”



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Years passed, and Castro continued to get away with his scamming. Finally, he was caught in Edinburgh after purchasing £2000 in gift vouchers using a stolen card.“In the end, I got a two-year sentence, which—considering what I did—was an absolute result,” Castro said.After spending his time in prison, Castro vowed to himself that he would never make the same mistakes or poor decisions again.“I know that I never meant to hurt anyone,” he insisted. “Even if that’s what happened, I didn’t mean it.”Today, Castro is a Scottish fraud prevention consultant who uses his past to help people avoid falling victim to fraud—a full-circle moment for him.“I’ve got a lot to be grateful for,” he said. “I f*cked up, and I’m glad I did that early in my life because I can now get on with the rest of my life.”


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How a 16-Year-Old Pulled Off $2.8 Million in Credit Card Fraud (2024)
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