September 25, 2022

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Ringleader of credit card skimming scheme sent to prison

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HOUSTON – A 31-year-old Cuban citizen who resided in Houston has been sentenced for his role as leader of an organization that installed hundreds of credit card skimmers in Southeast Texas over the last six years, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.

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

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

From 2017 through 2019, Garcia-Pupo directed other members of the scheme to install credit card skimmers at gas station pumps located around Harris and Montgomery counties to steal personal and banking information. Garcia-Pupo also used at least one of those stolen identities himself to purchase fuel.   

Authorities executed a search at his residence and found a laptop computer filled with up to 1500 stolen credit card numbers as well as materials to make credit card skimmers. Garcia-Pupo and his co-defendants would either sell the stolen information to other criminals or use the information to buy fuel that was then resold at much lower prices to generate cash.    

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

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

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

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