A Florida woman has been found guilty and sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison for her part in a credit and debit card skimming operation that spanned five states, including Alabama.
Eunises Llorca-Menses, 30, of Naples, Florida, was found guilty Friday in federal court in the Middle District of Alabama after she and her co-defendant Reiner Perez-Reeves, 34, of Houston, Texas, were charged in February.
The news was confirmed by acting U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama A. Clark Morris and Alabama Attorney General Steven Marshall.
"This conviction should send a strong message to debit card skimmers seeking to target unsuspecting Alabamians: you will be caught and brought to justice,” said Marshall.
Originally, Llorca-Menses and her counterpart would rent vehicles and travel through Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, and Texas, visiting gas stations along the way. At the stations, they would install a skimming device inside gas pumps to collect customers' credit and debit card information. After stealing the information, the two would then either activate or reactivate credit, debit, or gift cards to make unauthorized ATM cash withdrawals around the Southeast.
Several reports started coming in of victims having unauthorized use of their debit cards, which sparked an investigation by the Ozark Police Department, along with other state and federal agencies.
Investigators found that many victims had used their cards at the same gas station in Ozark where a skimming device with Bluetooth capability was found installed on the gas pump. The Bluetooth capability allowed both Llorca-Menses and Perez-Reeves to collect credit and debit card information from up to 30-feet away from the pump.
“It is incredibly difficult for the average person to determine if a gas pump has a skimmer,” Morris said. “This is because many are placed inside the gas pump with no visible evidence of tampering. While the crooks may be getting smarter, law enforcement continues to work hard to stay a step ahead. This conviction shows that our office will continue to work with our partners to identify criminals that seek to victimize our citizens.”
When arrested in December, nearly 40 credit and debit cards were found in Llorca-Menses' purse, along with 317 gift cards.
Along with the maximum 30-year sentence received, both Llorca-Menses and Perez-Reeves will each be required to make payment restitution to the victims.
Sentencings will take place within the next few months.
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