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Three Florida men plead guilty in gas pump credit card skimming scheme

11/16/2017 2:58:40 PM

Commerce Department continues to inspect gas pumps statewide for illegal devices

For Immediate Release

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced that three Florida men have pleaded guilty to a gas pump credit card skimming scheme. Roilan Garriga, age 20; Wilbur Perez-Soca, age 24; and Asleys Acosta, age 28, each pleaded guilty to five counts of felony identity theft in Hennepin County District Court.

They will be sentenced on January 8, 2018.

Garriga and Perez-Soca are expected to receive between 41-57 months in prison. Acosta, who has credit card fraud convictions from Florida, agreed to a sentence in the range of 60-90 months. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office will be requesting an upward departure in sentencing for all three men due to the complexity and sophisticated nature of the crime.

During their court hearings, the Florida men admitted they traveled from Florida to Minnesota for the sole purpose of stealing credit card information by installing skimmers on pumps at several gas stations. Using forged credit cards with the stolen information, they went on shopping sprees in the Twin Cities, including stores at the Mall of America, nightclubs and restaurants.

“Credit card skimmers illegally implanted in gas pumps to steal customers’ account information are a growing problem across the country,” said Rothman. “This case shows they are also a real threat to Minnesota consumers. That is why the Commerce Department has made it a priority to protect Minnesotans by inspecting gas pumps statewide for skimmer devices and working closely with law enforcement whenever they are found.”

In 2016, the Commerce Department launched a statewide crackdown on credit card skimmers at gas pumps. The Commerce Weights & Measures Division is responsible for regularly inspecting retail pumps throughout the state. In addition to monitoring pumps for accuracy, safety and fuel quality, Commerce investigators now also check for evidence of credit card skimmers. The department is also working with gas station operators on training and guidance about how to secure their pumps against tampering.

Since 2016, Commerce inspections have found 36 skimmers implanted in gas pumps at various locations in the state. These devices are now part of active criminal investigations by the Commerce Fraud Bureau in partnership with other law enforcement agencies.

Police arrested the three Florida men on the early morning of November 12, 2016, at the BP gas station at 2000 Third Avenue South in Minneapolis after a resident in a nearby apartment building called 911 to report that three men in a white van appeared to be tampering with one of the gas pumps. 

When officers looked into the passenger side of the van, they could see a computer, five cell phones and a small drill, with a bit that fit the gas pump so the panel could be opened.  Video from the station showed the van pulling up to the pump, with Garriga and Acosta opening and manipulating something in the gas pump. The investigation uncovered six skimmers on pumps at the station.

Police also found more than 20 debit or prepaid credit cards in the van. Each card was encoded with personal information from a Minnesota resident.

Media Contact
Ross Corson
Director of Communications
Minnesota Department of Commerce
p: 651-539-1463 | c: 651-368-5050 | ross.corson@state.mn.us

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