Two Miami-Area Men Sentenced in Connection with Nationwide Gas Station Skimming Scheme
Hugo Hernandez, age 35, of Miami Lakes, Florida, was sentenced today to 60 months in prison for his roles in an access device fraud conspiracy and a money laundering conspiracy. Marlon Palacios, age 38, of Cape Coral, Florida, was sentenced today to four months in jail for his role in an access device fraud conspiracy and for committing aggravated identity theft. The announcement was made by United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman; Janeen DiGuiseppi, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Ketty Larco-Ward, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Boston Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
As part of his guilty plea on October 22, 2021, Hernandez admitted that between December 2015 and July 2019, he conspired with others to commit access device fraud by building skimming devices designed to steal gas station customer information, installing those devices inside gas pumps in Albany, Broome, and Montgomery Counties, and elsewhere, and then using the information collected by those devices to create fraudulent credit and debit cards.
The fraudulent cards were used to obtain money orders, gift cards, cash, and other things of value. Hernandez also admitted to being part of a conspiracy to launder funds obtained through the access device fraud conspiracy, and, in facilitating that conspiracy, causing at least 162 money orders, worth $173,257, to be deposited into a bank account he controlled. As part of his plea agreement, Hernandez agreed to be subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $173,257.
As part of his guilty plea on April 14, 2021, Palacios admitted to being a part of the same access device fraud conspiracy described above. Palacios also admitted to committing aggravated identity theft by sending or receiving e-mails that contained debit and credit card account information of victims who had had their card data skimmed and stolen by members of the access device fraud conspiracy. As part of his plea agreement, Palacios agreed to be subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $25,000.
Senior United States District Judge Gary L. Sharpe also imposed a three-year term of supervised release on Hernandez to follow his term of incarceration, and a one-year term of supervised release on Palacios to follow his term of incarceration.
This case was investigated by the FBI Albany Field Office and USPIS Boston Division, with assistance from the FBI Field Offices in Miami and Pittsburgh, the USPIS Miami Division, and the United States Secret Service Miami Field Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rick Belliss.