Two men charged in skimming case

Yadiel Baez-Arias

The Leader-Herald staff reports

AMSTERDAM — Two Florida men have been charged following a six-month joint investigation after skimming devices were found on gas pumps in the town according to state police.

Yandy Arias-Mantilla, 34, of Miami Gardens Florida was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny, a felony, first-degree scheme to defraud, a felony; third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information and second-degree unlawful possession of a skimmer device on Thursday.

Then on Friday, Yadiel Baez-Arias, 30, of Hialeah, Florida was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud by state police.

Troopers said the investigation began in September 2017 when the owner of a gas station in the town found six skimming devices connected to gas pumps at the business and contacted state police. Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigaiton were also working on similar cases and secured the devices for examination.

Yandy Arias-Mantilla

In October, officials from the United States Postal Inspection Service began an investigation into an individual purchasing numerous US Postal money orders at post offices in the Broome County area using multiple debit cards to complete the purchases. Collaboration of the investigating agencies resulted in the eventual identification of suspects involved in using the discovered skimming devices to produce fraudulent debit and credit cards to make those purchases of the money orders.

A search warrant was executed in Broome County which resulted in locating 42 counterfeit debit cards and a laptop computer along with six credit cards in the possession of the suspects. Examination of the devices discovered in Amsterdam and the cards located revealed that each were directly related in the crimes committed.

Charges were filed in Broome County for the suspects where they were then held in the county jail.

Mantilla and Baez-Arias were transported from the Broome County Jail to the State Police in Fonda station where he was processed without incident and arraigned in the Amsterdam Town Court and remanded to the Montgomery County Jail in lieu of $150,000 cash or $300,000 bond.

An additional suspect is still being held at the Broome County Jail and will be transported to the Fonda State Police Station at a later date for processing and arraignment.

This latest arrest and the one pending are tied to the December 2017 arrests for skimming devices made by the state police in Fonda of two other individuals from Florida; Yudiel Ceballos, 31, and Yuny Rodriguez Hurtado, 29.

In that case, state police at Fonda arrested Ceballos, 31, of Opa Locka, Florida, and Rodriguez Hurtado, 29, of Miami, Florida in December with charges of first-degree criminal tampering, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property third-degree computer tampering, computer trespass, fourth-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree unlawful possession of a skimmer device, possession of burglar tools and third-degree unlawful possession of personal identification information.

Troopers said the two are alleged to have placed credit card skimming devices on gas pumps in Fonda.

The skimming devices were made inoperable, and then state police maintained surveillance of the gas station. The two men were later observed by police as they attempted to download credit card information from the skimming devices they had left on the pumps.

They were subsequently stopped and taken into custody by troopers.

An inventory of their vehicles revealed possession of other skimming devices, a computer used in downloading the devices, forged credit cards, and burglar tools.

Findings of skimming devices in the county came to light in September when Montgomery County Executive Matthew Ossenfort announced about the findings in the towns of Amsterdam and Mohawk.

Ossenfort stated in a news release that the County’s Department of Weights & Measures has reported three separate incidents this month where skimming devices have been found at three different local convenience stores.

Both Fulton and Montgomery counties had been doing routine checks for skimming devices for more than a year following information that more of the devices were being found around the state.

According to Montgomery County, these devices are nearly impossible for the customer to see because they are put inside the gas pump. If something appears off or looks like it has been tampered with, alert an employee or call police.

In the September release, Ossenfort stated that the county urges people to be cautious, stay alert and regularly check for any suspicious activity on personal accounts. Consumers may also use cash or pay inside the store, if possible, as to avoid using the outside credit card reader.