Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) State Crime Alerts (c)
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Emmanuel Dejesus Nina-Perez, 31, of Salt Lake City, was sentenced today to 27 months’ imprisonment by a U.S. District Court Judge as a result of a guilty plea. Nina-Perez is the sixth and final defendant in a three-year conspiracy that defrauded gas station customers and their banks by secretly using Bluetooth enabled skimming equipment to steal customers’ credit card information.
According to court documents and statements made at the change of plea hearing, Yarislani Padron-Cruz, 38, a foreign national living in Salt Lake City; Yofre Napoleon Almonte, 50, a foreign national living in Salt Lake City; Iraldo Pereda-Mendez, 36, of Salt Lake City; Jandry Artigas-Reyes, 38, a foreign national living in Salt Lake City; and Yosbel Delgado-Valdes, 44, of Salt Lake City, pleaded guilty to participating in a gas scheme conspiracy that began in 2017 and lasted through 2020. The defendants executed the conspiracy by using Bluetooth enabled skimming equipment that they installed onto gas pumps, specifically, on the motherboard of the internal computer that controls the gas pumps. Skimming equipment contains a Bluetooth card reader/recorder that records information – such as the customers’ credit card number, name and zip code associated with the card. After installation, the defendants would get within range of the Bluetooth skimming device to initiate a wireless Bluetooth connection at the gas pump. The defendants would then download the digital credit card/debit card information captured by and stored in their skimming device. The defendants then encoded the data captured onto duplicate cloned cards and would use them to purchase fuel and other items. Several of the co-conspirators, including Nina-Perez, were either long-haul truck drivers or had close connections to trucking transportation companies who operated fleets of long-haul trucks. Collectively, the defendants are responsible for over $200,000 in losses.
In addition to Nina-Perez’s sentence of imprisonment, Padron-Cruz was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment; Almonte was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment; Pereda-Mendez was sentenced to 39 months’ imprisonment; Artigas-Reyes was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment; and Delgado-Valdes was sentenced to 50 months’ imprisonment. Each has been ordered by the court to pay joint restitution to the victims. The court also ordered the forfeiture of $38,372 cash seized from Nina-Perez’s co-defendants’ residence in connection with their arrests.
“The theft of funds and identities imposed a serious burden and harm on the victims,” said U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins of the District of Utah. “My office is committed to seeking justice for victims and working with our investigative partners to crack down on this type of fraudulent behavior.”
“Filling up our gas tanks is a common, routine activity which means any one of us could have been a victim of this crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Shohini Sinha of the Salt Lake City FBI. “Fraud not only costs businesses and banks, but places an added burden on citizens to recover from identity theft. We encourage the public to regularly check their bank statements and report any potential fraud to local law enforcement or the FBI.”
The case was investigated jointly by the FBI Salt Lake City Field Office and an FBI Task Force Officer with the Salt Lake City Police Department.
Assistant United States Attorney Ruth Hackford-Peer and Special Assistant United States Attorney Sachiko J. Jepson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah prosecuted the case.