At Governor Scott’s direction, the Florida Highway Patrol continues to escort fuel resupply trucks so fuel is quickly delivered to communities across Florida. The US Coast Guard approved opening Port Everglades and Port Tampa Bay earlier today and fuel tankers are being given top priority as FHP stands ready to provide traffic escorts.
Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen today announced six arrests in connection to a credit card skimming scheme. According to the investigation, the defendants installed multiple skimming devices at various gas stations in Pinellas and Hillsborough County. In just a three-week period, the defendants allegedly stole more than 40 credit card numbers, using skimming devices at more than a dozen gas stations. Card skimmers are devices that can be inserted or attached to payment terminals. Once in place, these skimmers are able to copy the payment information of cards that are swiped or inserted.
“Skimming devices installed at gas pumps can go undetected for weeks—giving criminals access to credit and debit card information of unsuspecting consumers,” said Attorney General Bondi. “Partnering with the Florida Department of Agriculture, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and local law enforcement agencies, arrests have been made and skimmers have been seized.”
“One skimmer can result in $1,000 per victim. When we first discovered these illegal skimmers on gas pumps, we worked with the Legislature to crack down on the criminals responsible. I’m grateful to Attorney General Bondi and the other agencies that partnered with us in this investigation,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Putnam.
“This was a devious scheme designed to take advantage of hard-working citizens legitimately using their credit cards. This type of fraud severely harms our economy and I am glad FDLE joined our law enforcement partners to help put an end to this illegal venture,” said FDLE Commissioner Swearingen.
The defendants, all Hillsborough County residents, allegedly used the skimmers to steal multiple credit card numbers, manufacture new cards and make fraudulent purchases—mostly fuel to fill retrofitted bladders on trucks. Criminals will often illegally modify vehicles to carry hidden containers that can store large amounts of fuel that is then resold on the black market.
Authorities arrested the following six defendants in connection to this criminal activity:
- Yosmanis Alfonso Cruz, 34;
- Elisio Omar Arbolaez Felipe, 47;
- Yunierlys Gonzalez, 31;
- Maykel Medina, 40;
- Dasiel Parrado, 34; and
- Dania Roig, 32.
An additional suspect, Jose A. Piniero, 48, remains at large in connection to this case.
The defendants face a range of charges including fraudulent use of personal identification information, fraudulent use of a credit card, fraudulent use of personal identification of another, forgery of credit card, use of a scanning device to defraud, organized scheme to defraud using electronic device and possession of counterfeit credit card. If convicted, Cruz, Felipe, Gonzalez and Medina all face up to 10 years minimum mandatory in prison.
Attorney General Bondi’s Office of Statewide Prosecution is prosecuting this case. In addition to FDLE, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and the Homeland Security Investigations assisted in the investigation.