Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) – A man and woman are accused of illegally using six credit cards to purchase $656 worth of diesel fuel in Vernon Parish, then later returning to steal an additional $400.
The Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office began investigating May 11 when a local bank reported multiple compromised debit cards and all of the victims shopped at a local convenience store, according to a message from the sheriff’s office.
Deputies did not find a skimming device at the convenience store, but on May 24, store employees reported that a man had purchased $656 worth of fuel using six credit cards, remaining at the pump for more than 30 minutes, according to the sheriff’s office.
The next day, convenience store employees reported that the man was back at the pumps, according to the sheriff’s office. Deputies responded and found he had pumped over $430 from a tank in the back of his vehicle.
“Detectives observed that the cargo area of the pickup truck contained a metal fuel tank fitted with a fuel pump,” the sheriff’s office said in the post.
Store employees also retrieved about 30 gift cards from a trash can near the fuel pumps, according to the sheriff’s office.
The man, Yunior Marin Castaneda, 32, and a woman in the vehicle, Elenis Fernandez Rodriguez, 35, were both arrested.
Both have an address in Port Arthur, Texas, but were identified as Cuban nationals who entered the United States via Mexico, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Both indicated that upon entering Arizona, they were given a court date to appear for a citizenship hearing and released,” according to the sheriff’s office. “Both had fraudulent international driver’s licenses and social security cards at the time of their arrest.”
Both were arrested on 32 counts of misuse of monetary instruments, 30 counts of identity theft and one count of criminal association. Bond was set at $120,000 for each of them.
Both remain at Vernon Parish Jail. Castaneda also has a Texas Harris County Sheriff’s Department inmate on an outstanding warrant for credit card fraud.
The deputies informed the US Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Sheriff Craft would like to encourage citizens to avoid paying at the pumps whenever possible,” read the message from the sheriff’s office. “Thieves can use technology to steal credit and debit card numbers electronically. A skimming device placed in the fuel pump will record card and pin information. Thieves can then obtain these numbers electronically and load this information onto an empty gift card which is then used to make fraudulent purchases.
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