Six Cases Prosecuted In Metro Louisville For Skimming Credit Card Information Of Gas Station Customers
Estimated up to 50 active skimmers at gas-pumps in greater Louisville during investigation
Financial loss exceeds $3.5 million
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman, joined by FBI Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess, United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Richard Ferretti, and Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, today announced the results of an on-going investigation involving nearly 30 law enforcement agencies, across three states, (Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana) that has resulted in the arrest of eight individuals charged with aggravated identity theft, wire fraud and other charges, for their roles in skimming credit card information of gas station customers at gas-pumps.
“Today, the United States Attorney’s Office is joined by the FBI, Secret Service, Louisville Metro Police and nearly 30 law enforcement agencies to send a unified message to those who plant credit card skimming devices in the Western District of Kentucky: you will be caught and you will be prosecuted,” stated United States Attorney Russell Coleman.
“As advances in technology influence almost every aspect of our daily lives, it is important to remember these same advances allow the unscrupulous to prey on unsuspecting members of the public. The FBI, and its federal, state, and local counterparts will continue our efforts to inform the public regarding the danger of credit card skimming, and we will pursue those who commit these crimes and bring them to justice,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Amy S. Hess.
“This indictment is another example of how the Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force continues to successfully combat financial crimes. Our success is this case is the result of the extraordinary work of our investigators and our close cooperation with our law enforcement partners, stated United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Richard Ferretti”
In the Western District of Kentucky, eight individuals have been indicted by federal grand jury, either individually or as co-defendants, with charges including possession of device making equipment, conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, money laundering, wire and bank fraud. Of the eight defendants, two were sentenced in United States District Court, four pleaded guilty and await sentencing, and the remaining two defendants have trial dates in January 2018. All defendants have been charged with aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 24 months consecutive with the sentence for any other fraud offenses. There is no parole in the federal system.
The number of victims exceeds 7,000 unique card numbers belonging to both individuals and businesses. The United States Attorney’s Office has provided banks and financial institutions with information where card numbers were compromised. The combined intended loss for the six cases exceeds $3.5 million.
According to the indictments and plea agreements, skimmers were in use at convenience store gas stations located at Highway 42 in Prospect, Taylorsville Road, Bardstown Road, Saint Andrews Church Road, Galeen Drive, Shelbyville Road, and LaGrange Road.
Specifically, in United States v. Misael Jose Fernandez Campos, the defendant was charged by indictment on May 3, 2016 and entered a guilty plea to all 16 counts on October 2, 2017 before Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr., in United States District Court. According to the plea agreement, between February 2015, to March 2016, Campos manufactured skimming devices designed to illegally capture credit and debit card numbers being used at Louisville gas stations. The skimming devices were installed by Campos inside the gas pumps and later collected. The stolen financial information was then re-encoded, transferred, or cloned on to the magnetic strip of other plastic cards.
On August 17, 2017, five defendants were charged in four separate cases by grand jury indictment. Specifically, Pabel Anguela-Vazquez, Andres Tomas Alvarez Hernandez, Leonardo Rodriguez Prado, Yusbel Folgosso Parrado, and Miguel Yansel Castillo Fornaris.
Defendants Anguela-Vazquez and Hernandez were charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud. Both Hernandez and Anguela-Vazquez pleaded guilty in United States District Court, before District Judge David J. Hale in August 2017. Sentencing is scheduled for December 1, 2017 in Louisville.
Defendant Prado was charged with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of unauthorized and counterfeit access devices, and money laundering. Defendant Garcia was charged with bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering. Both are scheduled for trial in United States District Court, before Senior Judge Charles R. Simpson, in January 2018.
Defendant Parrado was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on November 8, 2017, to 28 months in prison by Chief Judge Joseph H. McKinley, Jr.
Defendant Fornaris was charged with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced on November 6, 2017 in United States District Court, to 45 months in prison, by Chief Judge H. McKinley, Jr.
On September 1, 2017, defendant Noslen Hernandez Guerra was charged in a criminal complaint, then by grand jury indictment, with fraud with identification documents, while on federal supervised release. Guerra pleaded guilty on October 23, 2017, and is scheduled for sentencing in United States District Court by Chief Judge H. McKinley, Jr., on February 5, 2018.
“This form of identity theft is causing untold losses to both financial institutions and individuals who are merely filling their tanks at the gasoline pump. As we begin the busiest travel season of the year, consumers need to pay special attention to where and how they pay for gasoline as criminals are using new and more sophisticated technologies,” concluded United States Attorney Coleman.
Consumers can take steps to reduce the risk of having their payment card information stolen at the gas pump. These steps include paying for gasoline inside the convenience store and when possible pay with cash; checking for signs that may suggest that the machine has been tampered with such as missing, broken, or loose security tape; and using gas pumps in view of surveillance cameras or visible to store clerks.
These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Judd and Daniel Kinnicutt and are being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, and Louisville Metro Police with assistance from Bardstown (KY) Police Department, Bellbrook Ohio Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Carrolton Police Department, Centerville Ohio Police, Harrison County Indiana Sheriff’s Department, Hamilton County Ohio Police Department, Jasper Indiana Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Kentucky Department of Corrections, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky State Police, Lexington Police Department, Madison Indiana Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Oldham County Police, Prospect (KY) Police Department, Rising Sun Indiana Police Department, St. Matthews Police Department, Simpsonville Police Department, Versailles Police Department, and West Chester Ohio Police Department. the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Colorado State Patrol, Clark County Sherriff's Office, Allen County Sherriff's Office, and Scottsville Police Department