In a joint law enforcement action, investigators arrested two men from Florida for running a credit card skimming operation.

The 39-year-old Lester Castaneda and the 27-year-old Luis Enrique Jimenez-Gonzalez, both of Florida, were arrested by law enforcement authorities for encoding stolen credit card information on plastic cards, which they allegedly used to steal money from the victims, a Salt Lake County Jail report stated. On May 1, investigators tracked the suspects’ stolen rental car to a motel room, where they found numerous plastic cards encoded with stolen credit and debit card data.

Law enforcement authorities were alerted when Onstar started tracking the rental vehicle of the two suspects. Investigators were on the trail of Castaneda and Jimenez-Gonzalez, they observed the men get out of the car and go into a motel room. Soon after the two suspects went inside, law enforcement authorities raided the location. Inside the room, detectives found “numerous credit cards” and a “card reader/writer that is used to clear and imprint the stolen information onto an existing card,” the Salt Lake County Jail report stated.

“While conducting an inventory of the stolen vehicle, we located numerous credit cards. In further investigation we found the credit cards were cloned cards with other victims’ information encoded on the magnetic strip,” police wrote in the report.

Castaneda with 30 counts of possessing a stolen bank card and obtaining encoded information off a financial transaction card, plus a federal detainer was placed on him. Jimenez-Gonzalez was accused of unlawful possession of a bank card, theft of a rental vehicle and obtaining encoded information off of a bank card. A federal detainer was also placed on him. According to the report, the 27-year-old was previously convicted in Illinois in 2015 of counterfeit card possession.

Recently, law enforcement authorities in Centerville, Cottonwood Heights and Richfield had arrested people in connection with skimming operations. In most cases, according to the media outlet, the suspects are people who travel across the country, spending about a week at a time in a city. The criminals set up machines that collect information off the magnetic strips of people’s bank cards. If they acquire such information, they can sell these on the dark web for profits.

There are also cases when criminals who are running credit card skimming operations are not stealing and selling financial information on darknet marketplaces or forums, but the opposite: they are purchasing stolen credit or debit card information, which they can use to encode the magnetic strips on plastic cards, which they can use at ATMs to steal the funds of the victims. Credit card skimmers mostly purchase encoder machines, which they can legally buy from e-commerce stores, such as eBay or Amazon, they do not even have to use the darknet at all. With the stolen credit card information, plastic cards, and the encoder machine, the criminals can gain huge profits from their illicit operation.

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