After 18 months of investigation, authorities have finally uncovered those responsible for a Central Florida scheme involving the altering of vehicle-identification numbers and skimming of credit cards to retrieve diesel fuel from pumps.
“Operation V.I.N. Diesel” exposed 14 members involved in the crime, 13 of which were arrested, while the mastermind, Omilquer Garcia Perez, is still being sought after.
According to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Perez owned a fraudulent trucking company called A&A Trucking, which was the scheme’s headquarters.
There were three cleverly thought out parts to the system:
First, thieves would skim the credit cards of consumers in order to obtain their information. As Corporal Rob Bell explained, “They didn’t even get out of their car. They’d use a small tool. They would open up the face of it (the pump) if it wasn’t secure, and place that skimmer inside in less than a minute. They would return later to retrieve the skimmer with the credit card information of all who used those pumps” (http://www.wdbo.com/news/news/local/orange-investigators-uncover-2-mill-credit-card-fr/nCc9j/).
Doing so, thieves were able to obtain 36,000 credit card numbers, an article on SunSentinel.com notes.
Members involved in the scheme then loaded 350 gallon containers onto stolen trucks in which they changed the vehicle-identification numbers of, used phony credit cards that they bought for $40 each, and using the credit card numbers from the skimming process, stole diesel fuel, the site explains.
Finally, the stolen diesel fuel was resold at A&A Trucking for $2.20-$2.50/gallon, in which the thieves obtained a profit of around $10,000 a day and nearly $2 million total due to the high number of truckers wanting to escape high diesel prices at the pump (http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-skimming-arrests-orange-20110509,0,5905179.story).
Those arrested face a variety of charges from grand theft auto to identity theft.
A&A Trucking is just another example of the rise in fraudulent trucking companies facing the industry today.
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How do you think that the thieves managed to operate their fraudulent trucking company and sell diesel at extremely low prices for as long as they did without being caught?