Carol Robinson, AL.com, March 2016
Three Cuban Nationals are in custody in connection with a credit card skimming/cloning scheme, Hoover police said today.
The men were arrested March 21, said Hoover police Capt. Gregg Rector. Police were contacted by Regions Bank corporate security investigations about several men making multiple fraudulent purchases at the Patton Creek shopping center.
Officers, who had received descriptions of the suspects, stopped the vehicle as it was leaving the area on Galleria Boulevard. All three men were identified as the same people trying to use the stolen credit cards, Rector said.
Investigators found 32 stolen or cloned credit cards on the suspects. Rector said the cloned cards contained the identities of multiple victims and, of those victims, 15 of the 32 have been located.
The credit card numbers were stolen through the use of gas pump skimming devices. Criminals, he said, routinely place skimming devices on ATM machines and are frequently hiding them on gas pumps.
Keys used to gain access to gas pumps were also found inside the suspects’ vehicle, along with a significant amount of stolen merchandise. It appears that all of the stolen card numbers were obtained or skimmed at the Kangaroo Station on Cahaba Valley Road in Pelham.
The pumps, Rector said, have been examined but the skimming device had already been removed. The stolen numbers are believed to have been skimmed between Feb. 20 and March 1. Rector said credit card fraud that is committed through the use of cloned cards and skimming devices continues to be a widespread problem nationwide. It has become increasingly common for these types of organized criminal groups be operating from Atlanta and the South Florida / Miami area.
Hoover police in June 2015 arrested another Cuban National with nearly two dozen credit cards cloned from skimmers hidden on Birmingham gas pumps. That man, Yordis Rodriguez-Martinez, was in the U.S. on a work visa.
The U.S. Secret Service estimates that annual losses from skimming total about $1 billion each year, or $350,000 a day. Basically, skimming involves criminals putting devices on ATMs or gas pumps to steal account data when consumers slip their debit or credit cards into the card reader. Tiny cameras or fraudulent keypad overlays capture PINs. Criminals then take that stolen information to make online purchases or to reprogram a gift card or other cards with magnetic stripes on the back that can then be used to make purchases in stores.
Those charged are: Fidel Rodriguez Garcia, 55, Rafael Bonne Trujillo, 31, and Leonard Lamorut Rodrigues, 31. All three are from Miami. They are being held without bond in the Jefferson County Jail.