Another “fake Uber” identity thief heads to prison — but only until August

A man who skipped bail while awaiting trial on identity theft charges and began stealing identities again by operating a fake rideshare scam has been sentenced to six years in prison. But after having his sentence reduced by 50% for good behavior and receiving credit for time spent in custody before pleading guilty, he’ll be back on the streets in August, according to state records.

Michael Cargile, 48, had a rich history of theft and possessing other people’s credit cards before he allegedly set upon his most recent criminal adventures. In one of his earlier convictions, he allegedly stole more than $100,000 in an ID theft scam. It’s kinda his “thing,” you might say.

Not long after he was paroled for his last round of financial crimes, prosecutors in Will and Cook counties charged him with new felonies. In one case, he allegedly used a stolen credit card to buy $5,922 worth of merchandise from a Walmart in southwest suburban Hodgkins.

Michael Cargile allegedly scammed people out of credit card information while posing as a ride-hail driver. | CPD; Stock Catalog

A judge set bail at $30,000, put him on electronic monitoring, and ordered him to stay home 24 hours a day unless he was at work. Three weeks later, another judge removed Cargile from electronic monitoring.

Two weeks after that, Cargile used two more stolen credit cards to purchase $3,784 and $4,515 worth of goods from the same Walmart store, prosecutors said. While a judge initially set Cargile’s new bail at $250,000, another judge reduced bail ten days later to $75,000, and Cargile went free.

Will County authorities arrested Cargile for felony identity theft and felony theft two months later. He was again released on bail.

Then, he stopped showing up for court. With three active bench warrants on his head from two counties, Cargile set up shop as a fake Uber driver in River North, scamming people out of credit and debit cards by claiming that he had to swipe the customers’ cards because the app’s payment system was offline, according to a source with knowledge of the allegations.

Cargile allegedly swiped the victims’ cards on his phone and then asked victims to enter their PIN. Cargile allegedly kept the victims’ cards or returned cards that looked like the victims’ cards.

The scam is identical to the one used by several men with backgrounds similar to Cargile’s.

Cops eventually caught up with Cargile when an officer on patrol in River North recognized his car as one used in the fake rideshare scams.

A few weeks ago, Cargile pleaded guilty to three counts of operating a continuing financial crime enterprise. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a host of felonies and agreed to suggest a sentence of three concurrent six-year terms. That’s precisely what he received.

He reported to prison on October 26 and will be released on August 26.

The “fake Uber” scam continues to be a problem, particularly in the city’s nightlife districts.

Just last month, Chicago police detectives allegedly found 32 credit cards belonging to 32 different people in the car of a man who’s accused of operating a fake rideshare vehicle outside bars and restaurants. Gabriel Jackson, 53, was arrested just days after completing parole for running a similar ruse in 2017.

According to prosecutors and a CPD report, Jackson double-parked in front of Spy Bar, 226 West Ontario, around closing time on November 13. The report said that a man and woman who list out-of-state addresses got into his vehicle thinking it was their Uber.

Jackson allegedly told the couple that they were in the wrong car but offered to let them pay him directly for a ride to their destination in Lincoln Park. When they arrived, Jackson scanned a credit card from each victim on his phone and had them enter their PINs, Assistant State’s Attorney Sergio Gomez said. He told them their banks declined the transactions, and the alleged victims then paid Jackson $15 cash for the ride. They later realized that someone was conducting transactions on the cards they gave to Jackson, Gomez said.

The victims notified police and CPD’s financial crimes investigators quickly identified Jackson as a suspect based on their knowledge of his rideshare scam history. Cops arrested Jackson during a traffic stop less than six hours after the couple was allegedly scammed, according to court and police records.

On the front seat of Jackson’s car, police found a credit card swiper attached to a cellphone that was opened to an app that records PINs, according to the records.

Prosecutors have now charged Jackson with two counts of facilitating identity theft, theft, and possessing three or more stolen credit cards.

Judge Barbara Dawkins allowed him to go home by posting a $500 deposit – the amount he is accused of stealing from the man who was picked up outside Spy Bar. She did not order him to go onto electronic monitoring or observe a curfew.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com