CLEVELAND – Federal agents indicted a dozen people on several charges for fraudulently installing skimmer devices connected to point of sale terminals on gas station pumps, and stealing credit-card information from thousands of people.
It happened in Ohio, Colorado, Maryland, Utah and elsewhere between August 2014 and July 2017.
"We believe there's at least two thousand people who've been victimized and that number could go as high as seven thousand," said Mike Tobin, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"The criminals in this case would pull into a gas station, distract a worker, block their view and install these skimming machines, where you put in your credit card, once you put in your credit card, they're able to steal your information," Tobin added.
The indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court, states that skimmers were discovered on gas pumps in several locations including Rocky River, Solon, Stow, Hudson, Fairview Park, Medina, Cleveland, Canton, Cuyahoga Falls, Norton, and Austintown.
The skimmer devices were able to obtain credit card and debit card account information; the defendants then re-encoded the stolen information, including the actual account holders’ names, onto counterfeit credit cards, which were used to purchase gift cards, and merchandise, in Ohio and elsewhere.
According to Tobin, "They were able to put it on a counterfeit credit card, they were able to create counterfeit credit cards, which they then could use as legitimate credit cards that they would use all across Northeast Ohio to buy goods, services and merchandise."
According to the indictment, the defendants traveled from Florida to install the skimmers and worked together to either distract gas station employees or block view while the skimmers were put in.
Here is who was named in the indictment: Ranset Rodriguez, 40, of Miami; Yaniris Alfonso, 31, of Miami; Jose Manuel Iglesias, 51, of West New York, New Jersey.; Juan Carlos Banos, 58, of Parma, Ohio; Carlos Rodriguez Martinez, 42, of Aurora, Colorado; Lester Enrique Castaneda, 39, of Hialeah, Florida; Edelberto Hernandez, 46, of Kiowa, Colorado; Eddy Pimentel-Vila, 45, of Jersey City, New Jersey; Luis Enrique Jimenez Gonzales, 27, of Hialeah, Florida; Yonasky Rosa, 34, of Tampa; Yadian Quesada-Hernandez, 31, of Tampa and Alejandro Moises, 52, of Miami.
Three people -- Juan Banos, Carlos Rodriguez Martinez, and Alejandro Moises -- remain at large.
The indictment states, in March of 2016, while being questioned by law enforcement, Carlos Rodriguez Martinez, tried to disable and destroy his laptop by pouring a glass of water on the keyboard. Account information from about 361 stolen credit and debit card accounts was recovered from the laptop, the documents state.