Miami Man Sentenced to a Total of 174 Months in Federal Prison for ‘Credit Card Skimming’ Scam
Spokane - Joseph H. Harrington, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, announced that Carlos Manuel Fleitas, age 31, of Miami, Florida, was sentenced after having pleaded guilty on January 23, 2018, to conspiracy to commit access device fraud. United States District Judge Salvador Mendoza Jr. sentenced Fleitas to a 30-month term of imprisonment, to run consecutive to a 144-month term of imprisonment the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida imposed on October 10, 2017, for crimes he committed in that District.
During sentencing proceedings, Judge Mendoza told Fleitas his actions affected real people and caused a loss of money and security. Judge Mendoza stated that imposing a concurrent sentence to the Florida sentence would not accomplish the ends of sentencing, noting that Fleitas appeared to have no appreciation for what he has done, and a consecutive sentence was necessary.
United States Attorney Joseph H. Harrington said, “Fleitas is part of a widespread epidemic of credit card fraud that effects people across the nation. Today, Judge Mendoza handed down a fair sentence that reflects the need to punish and deter those responsible for such fraudulent schemes.”
According to court records, during October 2015, Fleitas manufactured skimming devices or “skimmers” and placed them inside gas pumps at gas stations in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. “Skimmers” are devices used to read and steal information from the magnetic strips of credit cards, debit cards, and other access device cards. They are battery-powered, stand-alone, self-sufficient devices that can store gigabytes of data.
After using his “skimmers” to steal unwitting consumers’ credit card information, Fleitas also manufactured counterfeit credit cards and sent the counterfeit cards and stolen information to a co-conspirator in Florida, Yordano Bonachea. In furtherance of the scheme, Bonachea then ran the Fleitas-manufactured counterfeit cards through a card reader/writer at his Florida residence and encoded the stolen account numbers on the cards.
As part of the scheme, Bonachea and another Florida-based conspirator, Gilner Ernesto Garcia, traveled to Spokane, Washington, to use the counterfeit credit cards to purchase as many gift cards as possible from businesses before returning to Florida and selling them to Fleitas. Fleitas had agreed to buy the fraudulently-obtained gift cards from his conspirators at a rate as low as fifty percent below the gift card’s face value, depending on the type of card.
Bonachea and Garcia arrived in Spokane, Washington, and drove to the Tri Cities, where they began using the stolen account information and counterfeit cards. Local law enforcement became aware of the scheme when a victim from Medical Lake notified investigators that her debit card had been used at a store in Kennewick without her permission. Store surveillance video showed Garcia and Bonachea conducting transactions using fraudulent cards.
Investigators determined that Bonachea and Garcia were staying at a local hotel. During execution of a search warrant at their room, investigators seized large stacks of gift cards with a value totaling over $35,000, thirty-five counterfeit credit cards bearing the name “Gilner Garcia,” and twenty-seven counterfeit credit cards bearing the name “Yordano Bonachea.” Each card contained a different account number. Overall, the cards contained the stolen account numbers of over fifty victims.
Fleitas was charged in the Eastern District of Washington for his role in the conspiracy. He was placed on standard pretrial release conditions and returned to Miami, Florida to await trial. His release conditions included the requirement that he wear a location-monitoring bracelet around his ankle. In defiance of his release conditions, Fleitas continued to steal credit card numbers by placing skimmers in gas pumps around Miami, Florida. A search of Fleitas’ home in Florida yielded counterfeit credit cards and gift cards, modified in-line gas pump skimmers, USB data cables modified to test and download gas pump skimmers, skimmer software discs, and several gasoline pump keys and security seals. New federal charges were filed against Fleitas in the Southern District of Florida. He was arrested and his pretrial release was revoked. Fleitas subsequently pleaded guilty in Florida to charges of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, possession of access device-making equipment, and aggravated identity theft, and was sentenced to a 144-month term of incarceration for the multiple crimes he committed there.
This case was investigated by the United States Secret Service, the Kennewick Police Department, Post Falls Police Department, and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Alison L. Gregoire and James A. Goeke, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern District of Washington.