By Will Johnson
CROCKETT – Someone is always trying to make an easy buck. Many times, they get away with it. Other times they are caught red-handed. Such was the case on Friday morning, June 18, when a pair of men tried to install a credit card skimmer on a local business’ gas pumps.
According to information received from the Crockett Police Department, officers responded to panic alarm from a convenience store in the 1200 block of East Loop 304, shortly after 7 am last Friday.
“When officers arrived, they were told by the store personnel that they suspected that the occupants of a vehicle currently at one of the gas pumps had installed a ‘skimmer’ inside the gas pump. A ‘skimmer’ is a device installed in gas pumps by criminals to steal a victim’s credit card and debit card information,” an affidavit of probable cause stated.
While the officers were speaking with the store personnel, the suspects’ vehicle began to leave. The law enforcement officials were able to catch up to the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop.
The vehicle was occupied by two individuals, identified as Juan Diego Caporales (age 48 from Round Rock) and Juan Sobrino-Montero (age 51 from Houston). Caporales was found to have a felony warrant for his arrest out of Williamson County for Credit Card/Debit Card Abuse.
“Officers were able to gain consent to search the suspects’ vehicle,” the affidavit stated. “Inside the vehicle, officers found multiple credit/debit cards that belonged to several different people. Some of the cards had been previously reported stolen to law enforcement. Officers also located multiple gift cards that are used by criminals to clone credit/debit cards using the information obtained by the skimmers. Lastly, officers located several actual skimmers inside the car and multiple unused gas pump security seals.”
Both Juan Caporales and Juan Sobrino-Montero were placed under arrest and transported to the Houston County Jail. They have been charged with Fraud Possession/Use of Credit or Debit Card Information (Third Degree Felony) and Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument (State Jail Felony).
According to Section 12.34 of the Texas Penal Code, “An individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree shall be punished by imprisonment in the institutional division for any term of not more than 10 years or less than two years. In addition to imprisonment, an individual adjudged guilty of a felony of the third degree may be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000.”
Bond for Caporales was set at $40,000 (including two charges from Williamson County) while bond for Sobrino-Montero was set at $20,000 (including a charge out of Sutton County.) Both men remain in custody
Officers would like to remind everyone to remain vigilant while using their credit or debit cards especially at gas stations. If the gas pump looks like it has been opened or tampered with, use another pump or use a different form of payment. People should also regularly monitor their bank activity for any unusual activity and report any suspicious transactions to their bank and to law enforcement.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.