Austin men arrested in Bossier City plead guilty to using card skimmers to steal identities, money
SHREVEPORT, La. – United States Attorney David C. Joseph announced that two men from Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty last week to using a credit card skimmer to steal information to create fake credit cards and steal thousands from private accounts.
Emicel Artigas Garcia, 39, and Adalberto Ramos Cuellar, 42, both of Austin, pleaded guilty Friday before U.S. District Judge S. Maurice Hicks Jr., to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.
According to the guilty pleas, the defendants were observed on July 14, 2017 at a Bossier City retail store’s self-checkout counter swiping multiple cards in order to purchase prepaid money and gift cards. Bossier City police later approached the defendants in the parking lot and found seven credit cards and three gift cards in Cuellar’s possession, which bore the defendants’ names. After the electronic information was obtained from the cards, law enforcement agents found that stolen identities were on the cards even though they were labeled with the defendants’ names. Police later searched the defendants’ car and found seven USB thumb drives, one laptop, eight additional re-encoded cards, a cell phone, a gas pump key and a gas pump skimmer. Gas pump skimmers are illegal devices used to steal credit card information. The evidence from the seized devices showed that the defendants downloaded private card information between October 2016 and July 2017. The cell phone contained pictures of screens showing the stolen information, and the laptop contained compromised credit/debit card data for 793 additional cards.
The defendants face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy count and two years in prison for the identity theft count, which will run consecutive. They also face five years of supervised release, restitution and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 31, 2018.
The U.S. Secret Service and the Bossier City Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tennille M. Gilreath is prosecuting the case.