CINCINNATI, Ohio (FOX19) - A man seeking asylum in the United States is under arrest for installing skimmers on gas pumps in Butler and Hamilton Counties, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman said Monday.
Yosbel Ponce Bernal, 26, is charged with using gas pump skimmers which is a federal crime punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Glassman says in September 2018, the Butler County Auditor’s Office alerted the FBI to a skimmer found in Fairfield. He says the auditor’s office found information stored from 27 credit cards after removing the skimmer.
“We’ve been working on, really the last two years, setting up a inspection/surveillance program here in Butler County to look for the credit card skimmers,” said Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds. “We decided to go to work with the FBI and be a little more creative. What we ended up doing, they’re using technology to steal from us so we decided we’d use a little technology to track them.”
Glassman says surveillance cameras caught Ponce opening the gas pump door and spending minutes installing a second skimming device deeper into the gas pumps than the first skimmer had been in October.
The recording shows Ponce at a pump after midnight at a gas station that closed at 11 p.m., Glassman says.
Skimmers were discovered on two pumps in Hamilton County in November, officials say, and they say surveillance footage shows Ponce at these pumps as well.
Glassman says law enforcement tested a gas pump for finger prints and matched two prints to Ponce. He says Ponce’s fingerprints are on record from his application for asylum.
Ponce is a Cuban national with a Florida address, Glassman says. He was arrested Friday in Louisville.
Officials say a skimmer placed inside a gas pump collects credit card information. They say the skimmer is installed between the credit card reader and other internal circuitry of the gas pump and will not interrupt the purchase or notify the buyer or a third party.
They say a typical skimmer is capable of storing thousands of credit cards.