UPDATE: Suspects in gas station credit card skimmer case appear in court

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UPDATE 9/7/17 @ 5:05 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two of the three men who pleaded guilty for using gas station credit card skimmers were back in court Thursday.

In April, the judge sentenced them to serve probation in their home state of Florida, but they're still in West Virginia.

Lazaro Abraham-Manzo has been serving time in the Central Regional Jail. He still has charges pending in Harrison and Lewis counties.

A judge said today he doesn't want Kanawha to pay for those bills.

Yordan Ruiz was released Thursday based on time served. He's been in jail since November 2016.



UPDATE 4/13/17 @ 4:35 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Three men accused of downloading stolen credit card information will be heading back to Florida.

Lazaro Abraham-Manzo, Yordan Ruiz and Yusmani Esmori pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge on Thursday.

In December, the men were picked up for placing skimmers on gas station pumps and stealing credit card information to create gift cards.

The judge sentenced them to one year of probation to be served in their home state of Florida.



UPDATE 4/5/17 @ 4:10 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Three men charged in a stolen credit card scheme were back in court Wednesday.

Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani were arraigned Wednesday in Kanawha County court.

The trio were originally going to make a plea deal, until one of them backed out.

The three men, who each faces multiple counts, are now scheduled to be back in court on April 24.

All of them are being held on a $10,000 cash only bond.

The plea offer was extended to next Friday in case they three decided to take it. The standing offer is a plea for one count of conspiracy to defraud with credit card.

Police say the three are illegal immigrants from Cuba.



UPDATE 3/27/17 @ 7:55 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's a sense of déjà vu for many people as a credit/debit card skimmer reappeared at the One Stop Exxon shop on Charleston's East End.

Police say they found the latest skimmer on Monday. The devices, installed on gas pumps, are designed to swipe debit and credit card information.

Last December, that information was used to purchase phony gift cards. Police say it was part of a theft ring costing customers thousands of dollars.

Police were working Monday to determine if the two cases are connected.

In the meantime, officers recommend the following tips to help keep yourself safe:

  • Go inside to pay.

  • Use stations open 24/7.

  • Check bank statements.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/29/16 @ 7 p.m.
CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Clarksburg Police say three men involved in a multi-state, thousand-dollar stolen credit card scheme will face additional charges, after officers say they were identified buying thousands of dollars in gift cards at a Wal-Mart in Clarksburg.

Detective Webber, with Clarksburg Police, says surveillance video shows Lazaro Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Yusmani purchasing $6,100 worth of gift cards within a three-day span. Police say each gift card was valued at $100 dollars, totaling $6,100 in stolen money.

Webber says one of the three suspects, Lazaro Manso, is facing 61 additional fraud charges and was transported to Clarksburg, West Virginia, on Thursday for his preliminary hearing, which he waived.

Detective Webber says the other two suspects, Herrera Ruiz and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani, are expected to be transported from Southern Regional Jail to Clarksburg sometime next week and will also face additional charges.

The case was cracked open in November when Nitro police arrested the three men, after police say they were using stolen credit card information at the Nitro Walmart.

Nitro Patrolman J.R. Farry has been on the case since day one.

"I've been able to track them to a total of 25 cities in five different states," Patrolman Farry said.

Nitro and Clarksburg Police say the three men were stealing credit card information from skimmers on ATMs and gas stations throughout West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Maryland, then purchasing gift cards with the stolen money at Walmart.

Patrolman Farry says the suspects then turned the gift cards into cash.

"We actually traced some of the gift cards that were purchased down to a place out of Florida, and from there they loaded those gift cards onto PayPal bank account," Farry said.

He says two of the suspects are still on the run. He says one of the suspects in Juan Estevez, whose name appears on the room bills from several different motels.

Patrolman Farry says there are five known suspects currently, but thinks this could be an even a bigger operation. "I do believe there could be more than this five and that's after speaking with the Secret Service task force out of San Antonio, Texas. They normally run between eight and 12 individuals."



UPDATE 12/12/16 @ 5:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Charleston Police Department is urging everyone to pay inside of gas stations while businesses check their credit and debit machines for skimmers.

Card skimmers have now been found at the One Stop gas station in Cross Lanes and the Exxon on Charleston's East End.

"Take the extra moment to go inside and pay at the counter for now," Lt. Steve Cooper with Charleston Police said.

The card skimmers were attached to gas pumps, and Cooper says going inside to pay can curb becoming a victim to the scheme.

Sgt. Humphreys with the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office says the two card skimmers found at the One Stop are possibly related to the multi-state stolen credit card scheme Nitro Police busted in late November.

Coincidence or not, all law enforcement agencies encourage people to be aware whenever they swipe their card.

If you have purchased gas at either of the two gas stations, you are encouraged to check your credit or debit card statements. If you see any fraudulent charges, call your bank first and then reach out to law enforcement.



UPDATE 12/11/16 @ 7 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- Kanawha County Deputies say they found two card skimmers at the One Stop gas station in Cross Lanes.

This comes after Nitro Police found two card skimmers at the Exxon on Charleston's East End at the corner of Greenbrier Street and Washington Street East.

Sgt. Humphreys says the two card skimmers found at the One Stop are possibly related to the stolen credit card scheme Nitro Police busted in late November.

If you have purchased gas at either of the two gas stations, you are encouraged to check your credit or debit card statements. If you see any fraudulent charges on your card, police say to call the department where the fraudulent charges were made.

The Kanawha County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident.

Keep clicking WSAZ mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 12/9/16 @ 11:15 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nitro police are warning anyone who's stopped at a particular Charleston gas station recently to check their bank accounts.

Friday, officers investigating a credit card information theft ring involving thousands of dollars and hundreds of victims discovered two skimmers hidden inside the computer panels of two gas pumps at the Exxon on Charleston's East End at the corner of Greenbrier Street and Washington Street East.

Police now think it's one of the ways a group of illegal immigrants from Cuba, charged in the massive credit card theft scheme, were pulling it off.

Nitro Police Maj. Dave Richardson says the skimmers had been inserted on Pump 2 and Pump 5, in the middle portion of the gas station -- tough to see from the street and away from security cameras.

Police are not yet sure how long the skimmers were in place, but say they are trying to determine the station's average number of customers per day so they can determine how many people may be affected.

One of the regular customers swept up in the scheme is Kanawha County Magistrate Brent Hall.

"The pump looked exactly the same to me," Hall said. "I didn't notice until my credit card company contacted me, asking if I had been hacked."

Hall was fortunate enough to cancel his card before losing any money. Police say not everyone has been as lucky.

Richardson says the investigation is so massive, even more than a week after the arrest of three of the five suspects, the number of victims and the amount of money taken continue to rise.

The investigation started when the Nitro Police Department arrested Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani following a chase on Nov. 28. Police say all three are from Cuba and are in the United States illegally.

While police sort through the growing number of victims, they're giving tips to stop anyone else from falling prey to skimmer scammers:

  • Only use pumps with security stickers in place and in tact; a torn sticker could signal a break in.
  • Try to stick to gas stations open 24 hours, where it's hard to hack into the system unnoticed.
  • As a fallback, be sure to check your bank statements every day and, if available, set up notifications to alert you to suspicious purchases.

According to police, if you do notice any problems with your bank account, you need to call the police department in the city where your card was used to make a report.

Police say fraudulent purchases have been made in at least 12 states. They say that number could rise as the investigation unfolds.

Police say the three in custody were among a group of five suspects. They say two others are still on the run.



UPDATE 12/7/16 @ 6 p.m.
NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- It's been one week since the Nitro Police Department cracked open a multi-state/several thousand dollar stolen credit card scheme, and police say the investigation is nowhere close to being over.

"We have at least 60 to 80 man hours in just this investigation alone, so far." Maj. David Richardson said. "It's a lot bigger and more widespread than we thought."

Richardson says the number of victims continues to rise as the two suspects are still on the run. He says the most recent victim was reported Monday at the Walmart in Barboursville.

Nitro Police have traced stolen identities and money to West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Throughout the Tri-State, Richardson says more than 10 cities were targeted. They are Morgantown, Fairmont, Bridgeport, Spencer, Nitro, South Charleston, Hurricane, Huntington, Ashland, Kentucky, and Charleston. Police say as the investigation continues, the list could grow.

The investigation started last week, when the Nitro Police Department arrested Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani on Monday evening. Police say all three are from Cuba and are involved in the stolen credit card scheme.

Richardson says when the suspects were questioned by police, they acted like they didn't speak English, but police found out that's not the case.

"We've been in contact with people where they stayed, and those people have said, 'yes these people were definitely here, they spoke very plain English, and didn't have any issues communicating with us,' " Richardson said.

All five suspects were staying at Motel 6 in Kanawha City until three of the five suspects were arrested last week. Richardson says Motel 6 was just one of many hotels where the suspects were using stolen credit cards.

"They're staying here and hitting whatever area they can and then moving to the next area," Richardson said.

With hundreds of victims and thousands of dollars stolen, police say all of the cards are traceable, but the investigation will take several weeks to solve.

Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani are still awaiting a preliminary hearing, but a date has not been scheduled yet.



UPDATE 11/30/16 @ 6:30 p.m.
NITRO, W. Va. (WSAZ) -- Nitro Police say they've confirmed fraudulent charges were made in two states, possibly three, and the total dollar amount keeps climbing.

"Now we have identified several purchases several thousand dollars of dollars that we are looking into, so it's something that's going to be long and drawn out," Nitro Police Maj. Dave Richardson said.

After meeting with investigators, Major Richardson says they've confirmed fraudulent charges made throughout West Virginia including in Charleston, Nitro, Hurricane, Morgantown, Fairmont and Bridgeport. They've also seen fraudulent charges in Maryland and possibly Ohio. Police say this investigation is only getting started and the list could grow.

On Wednesday, Richardson said the Nitro Police Department has teamed up with the gift card company to get more leads on the investigation.

"They're going to be able to go through those gift cards we give them and tell us how much is on the gift card, where it was purchased and where it has been used,"

The Nitro Police Department arrested Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani Monday evening. Police say all three are involved in the stolen credit card scheme, but police say they are still looking for two more suspects.

Richardson says the other two suspects still on the run were last seen at the Nitro Wal-Mart and were driving a black Chrysler 300.

Currently, police know of at least 180 victims, but say that number could rise as the investigation continues.

If you notice any suspicious charges on your bank account, police say to call your card company and local law enforcement.



UPDATE 11/29/2016 @ 6 p.m.
NITRO, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Nitro Police are warning anyone with a credit or debit card to check their card statements for fraudulent charges after they arrested three men in a credit card scheme.

Maj. Dave Richardson says right now there's more than 170 victims, but that number could rise as the investigation continues. "You could have thousands of people who are involved as victims in this," Richardson said.

The Nitro Police Department arrested Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani Monday evening. Police say all three are illegal immigrants from Cuba.

Police say they are still looking for two suspects, but do not have a description.

The suspects were stealing people's credit card information and, through a special machine, were uploading the stolen card information to stolen gift cards.

"It appears that they're using a $100 gift card but in reality they're using someone's stolen information," Richardson said.

The Nitro Walmart tipped off Nitro Police after the suspects used stolen credit cards in the store earlier in the week. When Wal-Mart employees recognized the men back in the store on Monday, they called 911.

According to police, the suspects were driving a white minivan with New York license plates.

"This could be multi-state and it's going to be several thousands of dollars, if not into the six figures, by the time we're done," Richardson said.

Richardson says they are determined to find the source.

"We're going to have to do a lot of backtracking through credit card companies to find out who the actual victims are," he said.

That's why they are asking the public's help by looking at their card statements. Police say if you find fraudulent charges, report it to your card company and then to your local law enforcement.



UPDATE 11/28/16 @ 5:39 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Three men are behind bars after they were caught allegedly using stolen credit cards to buy gift cards.

The Nitro Police Department arrested Lazaro Abrahan Diaz Manso, Herrera Ruiz, and Rafael Alvarez Esmori Yusmani Monday evening.

Police said the three are illegal immigrants from Cuba.

The Nitro Walmart tipped off Nitro Police after they reported people inside the store buying gift cards with stolen credit cards.

Police said the suspects were using gift cards that had stolen credit card information loaded onto the cards.

Police say around 40 or 50 additional gift cards were purchased, most of them from Walmart.

The first suspect was captured at the Lowe's store in Nitro.

Police said the second two suspects fled in a rented minivan, leading police on a chase through Cross Lanes and towards Charleston on Washington Street West. They were apprehended in the area of 7th Avenue.

Officers have been able to identify about 30 victims so far, and are still working to identify more.



ORIGINAL STORY 11/28/16 @ 4:23 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va (WSAZ) -- Three people have been arrested after police say they were using stolen credit cards to buy gift cards.

According to Nitro PD, the Nitro Walmart called to report three people purchasing gift cards with stolen credit cards.

Police say about 40-50 gift cards were purchased, most of them from Walmart.

Police were able to apprehend one of the people at Walmart.

Two others got into a van and led police on a chase through Cross Lanes and Dunbar before being caught in Charleston near the intersection of Washington and 29th Street.

The van also went through a bus stop.

We have crew working on this story.

Keep checking WSAZ Mobile and WSAZ.com for the latest information.




 
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