Mastermind of credit card skimming scheme sent to jail | USAO-SDTX

HOUSTON — A 31-year-old Cuban citizen who resided in Houston was convicted for his role as the leader of an organization that installed hundreds of credit card skimmers in southeast Texas over the past six years, announced the American lawyer Jennifer B. Lowery.

Durlan Garica-Pupo pleaded guilty on May 18, 2021 to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with access devices and one count of aggravated impersonation.

Today, US District Judge Lee Rosenthal sentenced Durlan Garcia-Pupo to 60 months in prison for conspiracy. He must also serve 24 months for the aggravated identity theft to be served consecutively for a total prison sentence of 84 months. In passing sentence, Judge Rosenthal noted Garcia-Pupo’s leadership role in the scheme, the sophistication of the scheme, and the volume of stolen personal information involved. Garcia-Pupo is expected to face dismissal proceedings after his incarceration.

From 2017 to 2019, Garcia-Pupo ordered other members of the program to install credit card skimmers at gas station pumps around Harris and Montgomery counties to steal personal and banking information. Garcia-Pupo also used at least one of these stolen identities himself to buy fuel.

Authorities searched his home and found a laptop containing up to 1,500 stolen credit card numbers as well as materials to make credit card skimmers. Garcia-Pupo and his co-defendants sold the stolen information to other criminals or used the information to purchase fuel which was then resold at much lower prices to generate cash.

Two others – Lazaro Martinez-Garcia, 36, Houston, and Julio Cesar Blanco-Diaz, 41, Houston, have already been sentenced to 33 and 24 months respectively.

Garcia-Pupo has been and will remain in custody pending transfer to a US Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The Texas Department of Public Safety led the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas H. Carter prosecuted the case.