LYNN HAVEN, FL – If you gassed up in the Bay County area, you might want to double-check your credit card statements because the police here found credit card skimmers on several pumps. Those skimmers sit atop the gas pump’s credit card swiper and capture your card’s number and personal information.
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement:
The Bay County Sheriff’s Office announced the arrest of three individuals after an operation conducted by the BCSO Financial Crimes Unit and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement revealed the suspects were engaged in credit card skimming at a local gas station. The three were arrested on February 19, 2021.
During the week of February 8, 2021, a credit card skimmer was located at a local gas station as a result of a proactive sweep throughout Bay County. On February 19, 2021 the BCSO Financial Crimes Unit learned that an individual was tampering with the same gas pump. With the assistance of the Lynn Haven Police Department, the suspects were detained and transported to the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
A search warrant was obtained on the vehicle the suspects were driving. During the search, investigators found numerous credit card skimmers and electronic equipment commonly used to remotely retrieve stolen credit card data was recovered. Also located inside the vehicle and found in the possession of the suspects were cards that had re-encoded credit card data.
Arrested as a result of the operation was Tomas Bello, age 48, of Orlando, Florida. Bello was charged with Possession of a Credit Card Skimming Device (3rd Degree Felony), Possession of Burglary Tools (3rd Degree Felony), Unauthorized Access to an Electronic Device (2nd Degree Felony), and Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information (3rd Degree Felony).
Also arrested was Sergio Perez-Cairo, age 33, of Miami, Florida. He was charged with Possession of a Credit Card Skimming Device (3rd Degree Felony) and Unauthorized Access to an Electronic Device (2nd Degree Felony).
The third suspect is Nolsen Sendra-Gonzalez, age 36, of Orlando, Florida, who was charged with four counts of Possession of a Credit Card Skimming Device (3rd Degree Felony), Trafficking in Counterfeit Credit Cards (2nd Degree Felony), and Tampering with Evidence (3rd Degree Felony).
The investigation is ongoing. Additional charges are expected.
Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford urges everyone to use credit cards and not debit cards when paying for gas at the pump. By using a credit card, the user has fraud protection from the card company. When a debit card is skimmed, the suspect could learn pin numbers which give the suspect full access to the account.
The public is also urged to examine the pump before paying. Specifically, make sure the tamper-evident security tape is intact. If the tape is not intact, immediately notify the gas station attendant, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Finally, always check card statements and have fraud protections in place. If you determine there has been fraudulent activity on your account notify law enforcement and the credit card company.
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