On Wednesday, a group of ten individuals including the head of the group received a total of 30 years sentence. The group was involved in installation of card skimmers on gas pumps across five states in the US including main cities of Northeast Ohio.
Through card skimmers, credit card detail of thousands of people was stolen. Two other members of the group namely Carlos Rodriguez Martinez of Aurora Colorado and Juan Carlos Banos of Parma are still at large. However, the US law enforcement agencies are proactively looking for them.
The head of the group, Ranset Rodriguez, 41, has received 81 months jail time in federal prison. In total, 12 people have been indicted out of which 2 are at large while ten pleaded guilty in a federal court.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, the accused installed card skimmers at key cities in five US states including Ohio, Utah, Colorado, and Maryland between August 2014 and July 2017. The main cities where the group managed to install card skimmers include Cleveland, Fairview Park, Canton, Hudson, Solon, Rocky River, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls, Austintown, and Norton, etc.
Using the information the group was able to make counterfeit cards and used them at stores to buy merchandise or gift cards. The group members used to travel from Florida and collectively worked to distract gas station staff and install the skimmers.
Other members of the group who have received sentencing by Chief U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan include New Jersey residents Jose Manuel Iglesias, 52, who received 81 months in prison, and Eddy Pimentel-Vila, 46, who received a two-year sentence. One of the defendants, Hialeah, Florida resident Lester Castaneda received sentencing in a Federal court in Ohio, and he received six months in prison followed by a six-month long house arrest.
U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman explains that:
“This group stole credit card information from thousands of people all over Northeast Ohio just looking to fill up their gas tanks and continue on their way. Instead, these victims had their personal information taken and used to make fraudulent credit cards, which this group in turn used to steal merchandise.”
The FBI dismantled this group in a joint operation with the local police, and local law enforcement agencies; the operation named “Operation Deep Impact [PDF]” was initiated a week ago to remove credit card skimmers from point-of-sale points throughout the US and track the criminals, revealed Jonathan Schuck, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent.