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Credit card skimmers found in Bay County; 3 arrested

Credit card skimmers found in Bay County; 3 arrested

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The Bay County Sheriff's Office announced the arrest of three individuals after an operation conducted by the BCSO Financial Crimes Unit and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services-Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement.

The investigation revealed the suspects were engaged in credit card skimming at an area gas station, according to a press release from the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. The three were arrested on Feb. 19.

During the week of Feb. 8, officials said, a credit card skimmer was located at an area gas station as a result of a proactive sweep throughout Bay County. On Feb. 19, the BCSO Financial Crimes Unit learned that an individual was tampering with the same gas pump. With the assistance of the Lynn Haven Police Department the suspects were detained and transported to the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

A search warrant was obtained on a vehicle the suspects were using. During the search, investigators found numerous credit card skimmers, and electronic equipment commonly used to remotely retrieve stolen credit card data was recovered. Also located inside the vehicle and found in the possession of the suspects were cards that had re-encoded credit card data, the release stated.

Arrested as a result of the operation was Tomas Bello, 48, of Orlando. He was charged with possession of a credit card skimming device (third-degree felony), possession of burglary tools (third-degree felony), unauthorized access to an electronic device (second-degree felony), and criminal use of personal identification information (third-degree felony).

Also arrested was Sergio Perez-Cairo, 33, of Miami. He was charged with possession of a credit card skimming device (third-degree felony) and unauthorized access to an electronic device (second-degree felony).

The third suspect is Nolsen Sendra-Gonzalez, 36, of Orlando, charged with four counts of possession of a credit card skimming device (third-degree felony), trafficking in counterfeit credit cards (second-degree felony), and tampering with evidence (third-degree felony).

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are expected, authorities said.

Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford urges everyone to use credit cards and not debit cards when paying for gas at the pump. By using a credit card, the user has fraud protection from the card company. When a debit card is skimmed, the suspect could learn pin numbers which give the suspect full access to the account.

The public is also urged to examine the pump before paying. Specifically, make sure the tamper-evident security tape is intact. If the tape is not intact, immediately notify the gas station attendant, the Bay County Sheriff's Office, or the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Finally, always check card statements and have fraud protections in place. If you determine there has been fraudulent activity on your account notify law enforcement and the credit card company.

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