SALT LAKE CITY – Six people are facing federal charges for reportedly creating a new gas pump skimming process. It is a complex way to skim credit card information from gas pumps, taking hundreds of thousands of dollars.
So far, five suspects are in custody.
Credit card skimming devices on gas pumps aren’t new, and people have been warned about what they should look for.
The gas pump skimming machines are attached to the card reader and it’s designed to look like part of the pump. However, U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber says these suspects used a Bluetooth device that they were able to install inside the pump.
Customers wouldn’t be able to see the skimmer even if they were looking.
Huber said, “This, we would have no idea because it’s inside the computer inside the pump.”
Investigators say the data would be transmitted to laptops operated by the suspects who were sitting in nearby cars. Huber said the suspects, Yosbel Delgado-Valdes, Iraldo Pereda-Mendez, Emmanuel Nina-Perez, Jandry Artigas-Reyes, Yarislani Padron-Cruz, and Yofre Napoleon Almonte were “extremely busy”.
“This was a very prevalent conspiracy. It’s not limited to one little neighborhood or one little gas station. You’ve got (gas pumps) from northern Utah all the way down to Scipio and everything in between,” he says. “We’re talking around $200 thousand in losses to individual victims and mostly banks.”
The scammers would reportedly clone that information onto discarded hotel keys which would be used to make large purchases. Huber reported the suspects used that information to buy more gasoline.
“This group is charged to have used our stolen identities to buy more fuel and then offload it into storage tanks, offsite, then either sell it or give it to their buddies,” he added.
Each of the suspects is being charged with bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
The conspiracy charge has a maximum penalty of 30 years in federal prison. Almonte was also charged with entering the country illegally after being deported. A federal arrest warrant is still pending for Pereda-Mendez, the missing suspect.
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