Massive Credit Card Scams Uncovered near Texas Border

File Photo: Matt Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

MCALLEN, Texas — Authorities are hunting for 12 men and women tied to two separate massive credit card cloning and fraud investigations. Five other men have already been arrested on multiple charges tied to the case.

The two groups, one from Austin and one form Miami, Florida set up credit card skimmers at various gas stations throughout South Texas, information provided to Breitbart Texas by McAllen Police revealed.Skimmers were described by McAllen Police detectives as devices attached to credit-debit card readers that steal a customers information when a card is swiped as one normally does at businesses while paying for goods and services.

“These are organized groups that traveled to South Texas to commit organized thefts,” McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez said in a prepared statement. “As a result many South Texans have been victimized. These kinds of data thefts are unlike simple thefts where a theft of an item is an open and closed event.”

This case the result of an ongoing long-term investigation which began when multiple victims reported their financial information had been compromised. Investigators followed the data and learned that the card information was stolen through gas pumps.

Last week, Breitbart Texas reported on yet another large credit card fraud operation carried out by a Cuban national who had worked with Russian and Chinese hackers to buy stolen credit card numbers. He was then able to clone cards to pay for goods and services.

“Although it is always important to guard agains these types of crimes, it is most important to be vigilant during this time of the year, the Holiday season,” Rodriguez said. “I respectfully urge members of our communities to regularly monitor their bank statements. Unusual activity should be reported immediately to their bank or credit card company. The sooner the consumer detects the suspect activity the sooner the losses may be minimized and the greater the opportunity to identify those involved.”

The Chief also warned area businesses to regularly check their readers and equipment to guard against individuals installing skimming devices.

“It is a new age and these crimes are a product of that new age,” Rodriguez said. “We must adapt to this and take those steps to safeguard against these crimes.”

Authorities have arrested and charged the following individuals with multiple charges of credit card abuse and some with engaging in organized criminal activity.

  • Juan Carlos Perez , 25, from Austin
  • Carlos Alberto Reyes Bautista , 40, from Austin
  • Alexander Escalante Pena, 40 from Austin
  • Jesse Naiski Encarnacion, 39, Pharr Texas
  • Debray Linares, 36, Miami

Authorities are still searching for the following individuals who are wanted on credit card abuse charges and some with engaging in organized criminal activity.

  • Lino Marrero Montes, 25, Florida
  • Michel Jesus Velazquez Gregori, 30,Florida
  • Yunier Carballo Pupo, 33, Austin
  • Manuel Cabrera Perez, 36, Austin
  • Jose Yoan Mafut Valdivia, 22, Austin
  • Raul Gonzalez Falcon, 28, Austin 
  • Raul Betancourt Estevez, 33 Austin
  • Marilyn Del Toro Bravo, 41, Austin
  • Eric Javier Aponte, 44, Homestead, Florida
  • Yasmani Hernandez, Lopez, 27, Miami
  • Ivonne Lezcano, 40, Miami
  • Olga Cecilia Cabanas, 48, Miami

Ildefonso Ortiz is an award winning journalist with Breitbart Texas you can follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.