Three men plead guilty in gas pump credit card skimming scheme
The last of three men has pleaded guilty in a credit card skimming scheme, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Wednesday.
Roilan Garriga, 20, pleaded guilty to five counts of felony identity theft Tuesday afternoon. Last week, his two accomplices, Wilbur Perez-Soca, 24, and Asleys Acosta, 28, also pleaded guilty to the same charges. Judge Lisa Janzen will sentence all three men on January 8.
Garriga and Perez-Soca are expected to receive between 41-57 months in prison. Acosta, who has credit card fraud convictions on his record in Florida, agreed to a sentence in the range of 60-90 months. The 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 men admitted they planned their trip from Florida to Minnesota for the sole purpose of stealing credit cards. They admitted to installing the skimmers at several gas stations and after stealing identities, they went on shopping sprees in the Twin Cities with the forged credit cards including stores at the Mall of America, nightclubs and restaurants.
According to the criminal complaint, about 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 12, 2016, a resident of an apartment next door to the BP station at 2000 Third Ave. S. called police and reported that three men in a white van appeared to be tampering with one of the gas pumps. Police arrived and arrested Garriga, Perez-Soca and Acosta.
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 that the pump door could be opened. Six credit card skimming devices were found on pumps at the station. Video from the station showed the van pulling up to the pump and Garriga and Acosta opening and manipulating something in the gas pump.
Police also found more than 20 debit or prepaid credit cards in the van, each of which were encoded with personal information from Hennepin County residents.
Following the arrests last year, County Attorney Freeman held a news conference with Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman who announced that the Commerce Department had launched a statewide crackdown on credit card skimmers at gas pumps. The crackdown includes regularly inspecting retail gas pumps throughout the state and conducting “skimmer sweeps.” The department is also working with gas station operators on training and guidance about how to secure their pumps against tampering.