More than 100 charges have been filed against two men accused of stealing people’s credit card information using skimmers at gas pumps and spending thousands of dollars after creating fake cards.
Uvar Alexander Valera Esquenazi, age unknown, of Sarasota, Florida, and Renier Ramirez Rodriguez, 20, of Louisville, Kentucky, have each been charged with 77 felony charges and 41 misdemeanor charges by the Bristol Virginia Police Department. They face charges of credit/debit card forgery, credit/debit card fraud, obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a felony.
The White Pine Police Department in Tennessee arrested the men last Wednesday after a gas station clerk recognized them, authorities said. The pair has been wanted in multiple jurisdictions, including Bristol, Virginia; Bristol, Tennessee; Washington County, Virginia; Knoxville, Tennessee; and White Pine, Tennessee.
Beginning on Jan. 24, Bristol, Virginia, detectives began to investigate debit card fraud incidents reported by 18 different victims. In all of the Bristol incidents, the victims received notice of the fraud while still in possession of their debit cards.
Detectives said the men charged apparently placed skimmers on the pumps at different gas stations in the city.
Once victims used the pumps with their credit/debit cards, the individuals were able to take the card information and then create new, basically identical cards, Sgt. Steve Crawford said.
The individuals then used those fake cards to make purchases in the area, including at multiple locations in the city, Crawford said.
Police reported that a total of about $8,000 was stolen from Bristol victims.
Video footage in multiple jurisdictions has been used to help identify the suspects, Crawford said.
White Pine police, who arrested the men on Wednesday, have also filed charges. They are scheduled for arraignment in Jefferson County court next week. They remain held without bail.
Bristol Tennessee Police Department Capt. Terry Johnson said on Friday that charges are also pending against the pair in that jurisdiction.
Crawford said Bristol detectives will visit Jefferson County within the week to interview the two arrestees. He added that it is not known whether any more skimmers have been installed at pumps locally. He advises consumers to monitor their bank statements.