Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Alejandro Arias-Perez, 29, Miami, Florida, was sentenced yesterday to 108 months in federal prison for possession of device making equipment. Arias-Perez pleaded guilty to this charge on November 29, 2017.
The government’s investigation into Arias-Perez revealed that he was a leader of a nationwide credit card fraud scheme that involved installing skimmers into gas pumps in order to steal credit card information. The investigation showed that once Arias-Perez retrieved the skimmers from the gas pumps, he downloaded the stolen credit card numbers onto a computer and/or flash drives and emailed those numbers to individuals in Miami, who were engaged in producing fraudulent credit cards. After the counterfeit credit cards were made, Arias-Perez provided the cards to individuals who travelled to the states where the credit card numbers were stolen. The individuals used the counterfeit cards in those states to purchase as much merchandise as possible. The merchandise was then shipped or transported back to the Arias-Perez in Florida.
Regarding his activity in the Madison area, the investigation revealed that Arias-Perez installed a skimmer inside a gas pump at the Shell gas station at 4821 East Washington Avenue on August 12, 2016. The skimmer was discovered on August 23, 2016. A forensic analysis of the skimmer revealed that it contained 382 credit or debit card numbers.
Additionally, on September 1, 2016, Madison police officers discovered a skimmer placed inside a gas pump at the BP gas station located at 318 South Park Street. The investigation revealed that Arias-Perez placed the skimmer inside of the pump on August 12, 2016. A forensic analysis of the skimmer revealed that it contained 547 credit or debit card numbers.
During the investigation, search warrants were executed on Arias-Perez’s residence in Miami and multiple email accounts controlled by him. As a result of the warrants, investigators determined that Arias-Perez was responsible for the theft of nearly 50,000 credit card numbers that were obtained between early 2015 and his arrest on April 27, 2017. The investigation revealed that dozens of retailers and financial institutions lost in excess of $1,000,000 as a result the credit card fraud scheme.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Conley recognized the very serious nature of the credit card fraud scheme and noted the potential large-scale devastation that Arias-Perez’s scheme had on victims in the case. Judge Conley also noted that Arias-Perez had expressed no remorse for the thousands of victims impacted by his crimes. Furthermore, Judge Conley was very concerned that Arias-Perez had two prior felony convictions for similar conduct and had not been deterred from engaging in credit card fraud despite the sentences he received in those prior cases.
The charges against Arias-Perez were a result of an investigation conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Madison Police Department. The prosecution of the case has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron Wegner.