Gas pump fraud arrest leads to plea bargain

On Behalf of | May 4, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Current technology allows almost anyone to buy credit card numbers online or use an electronic device to intercept them. The use of a debit or credit card to make unauthorized purchases, however, may lead to a serious felony fraud charge. 

Card issuers implement sophisticated programming to detect when a purchase appears fraudulent. If an individual buys something from a store that the card’s user does not usually visit, for example, the card terminal may receive a signal to cancel a transaction. 

Skimming credit card numbers  

Texas law enforcement officials received a “suspicious activity” call from a gas station attendant. Upon arrival, they found two men pumping gas into a red pickup truck and arrested them. 

Inside the truck, officers discovered a device with connector wires and a computer chip that they allegedly used to capture credit card information. According to KBMT-TV 12News, the “skimmer” device purportedly contained over 250 card numbers with about $1 million worth of available credit between them. 

Accepting a plea deal 

After their indictment by a grand jury for federal charges involving credit card fraud, a conviction could have resulted in up to 20 years in prison. One of the two men pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of conspiracy to commit access fraud. By pleading guilty to the reduced charge, he received a sentence of 18 months in federal prison. 

It is not uncommon for a prosecutor to offer a plea bargain; it saves the court the costs and resources that would otherwise go into a trial. A defendant who accepts a plea, however, admits in exchange that he or she engaged in wrongdoing, as described by the U.S. Department of Justice. In exchange for taking responsibility, the individual may receive a lesser punishment. 

A jury trial’s felony fraud conviction could result in a lengthy sentence and serious consequences. If circumstances allow for a plea bargain, a defendant may negotiate with the court.