Alleged credit card skimmers indicted

A group of Cuban natives allegedly caught in Huntington as part of a credit card skimmer scheme face the forfeiture of over $100,000 and years in federal prison after an indictment was returned in federal court in Wheeling.

Meylan Montalvo-Gomez, 27; Yari Fuentes Quinones, 26; and Naudi Reyes Fernandez, 36, of Hialeah, Florida, and Yosan Pons Sosa, 29, and Lazaro Serrano Diaz, of Miami, were all listed in the indictment returned by a grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. All were listed as Cuban-born, lawful permanent residents of the United States, except for Diaz, who is a naturalized citizen.

The group, excluding Diaz, had been arrested Oct. 23 in Huntington and charged after police received complaints about unauthorized transactions being made on credit cards in Morgantown, even though the owners were still in possession of their cards.

 The charges in Cabell County were later dismissed so the group could be transported to Morgantown, from which that area the theft of device information had stemmed.

All five are now federally charged with conspiracy to commit access device fraud. Fernandez is additionally charged with possession of device-making equipment and Sosa, Gomez, Quinones and Diaz are charged with use of an unauthorized of an access device.

According to the indictment, from about Aug. 28 to Dec. 5 in West Virginia the five conspired together to use 15 or more unauthorized access devices to obtain items.

The indictment alleges the defendants would travel from Miami to Baltimore or New York City, where they would rent a vehicle to travel to New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and West Virginia.

They would place a skimming device inside a gas pump, later returning to use Bluetooth technology to upload credit card information to a laptop.

The defendants would allegedly take the information and re-encode the information onto a fake card to conduct unauthorized transactions, including cash withdrawals and transactions in stores, usually at or near the same region from where the account information had been stolen.

From Sept. 1 until the group was arrested by law enforcement at a Huntington hotel Oct. 23, the five would use the cards while randomly driving in various locations from New York to West Virginia, never staying in a town or hotel for more than a day or two.

 Gomez is accused of opening a checking account in Aug. 28 in Miami where some of the funds would be deposited.
On Sept. 14, she deposited $4,000 in cash, $1,675 in Western Union money orders and $2,500 in MoneyGram money orders.

The group used the account to deposit money received from illegal cash withdrawals and pay for the bonding fee of other members.

The group faces forfeiture of all personal property found during their arrest, including two computers and six cellphones. Also found in their possession was about $41,140 in cash, $38,798 in money grams and about 60 gift cards worth about $29,350, totaling $109,288.

They could also end up having to forfeit up to $150,000 remaining in a Wells Fargo account and $1,510.73 left in another bank account.

A hearing is expected to occur sometime this week for arguments on whether the defendants should remain jailed.

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