ST. LOUIS, MO – United States District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig sentenced Jorge Alexander Betances, Jr., on Tuesday, to 28 months in prison. The 24-year-old Philadelphia, Pennsylvania resident previously pleaded guilty to possession of device-making equipment.
According to court documents, on April 22, 2019, the defendant was pulled over by a Drug Enforcement Administration Task Force Officer with Phelps County Sheriff’s Department for a traffic violation while travelling on Interstate 44. A search of the defendant’s vehicle revealed numerous different components of credit card device making equipment – including skimming devices, a card encoding device, gas pump-style locks and security seals, and plastic card stock (some blank and some printed with banking information on them). In addition, law enforcement discovered inside the vehicle tools that could be used to install credit card skimmer devices on gas pumps. Finally, law enforcement discovered more than 3,572 counterfeit or unauthorized access devices, including in the form of physical credit cards and in electronic form on the defendant’s digital devices.
“Payment card skimming devices continue to be installed inside gas pumps throughout the nation, said Thomas Landry, Special Agent in Charge, United States Secret Service St. Louis Field Office. “Skimmers are designed to covertly steal payment card information from unknowing victims when they purchase fuel at the pump. To protect yourself:
- Make sure the gas pump panel is closed and doesn’t show signs of tampering
- Run your card as a credit rather than a debit
- Go inside to pay or utilize mobile app/cardless payment systems
- Use gas pumps near the front of the store and be aware of your surroundings
- Check your accounts and report fraud to your bank immediately”
The Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Secret Service investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Kyle T. Bateman prosecuted the case for the United States Attorney’s Office.