Miami Man Pleads Guilty in Connection with Nationwide Gas Station Skimming Scheme

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Gas prices at the pump

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Joan Jesus Manso Dieguez, age 35, of Miami, Florida, pled guilty today to a superseding indictment charging him with taking part in an access device fraud conspiracy and a related money laundering conspiracy.

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 Inspector in Charge Ketty Larco Ward, Boston Division, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).

The conspiracies involved a nationwide gas station skimming scheme in which the members of the access device fraud conspiracy stole banking and personal information of gas station customers in and around the Northern District of New York, as well as multiple other parts of the country, who used the “pay at the pump” feature to make gasoline purchases.  Gift cards, money orders, and cash obtained using the stolen card information were then laundered by the members of the money laundering conspiracy.

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As part of his guilty plea, Dieguez admitted to conspiring with others to commit access device fraud, between December 2015 and July 2019, 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 fake credit and debit cards; the fake cards were then used to obtain money orders, gift, cards, cash, and other things of value.

Dieguez also admitted to being part of a conspiracy to launder funds obtained through the access device fraud conspiracy.  In facilitating that conspiracy, Dieguez caused the deposit of at least $505,739 into bank accounts he controlled.  Dieguez further admitted to withdrawing $473,754 in cash from those same banking accounts, and to selling gift cards worth $1,731,169.  The gift cards had been purchased using information stolen from approximately 2,900 cardholders.  As part of his plea agreement, Dieguez agreed to be subject to a forfeiture money judgment in the amount of $1,421,200.

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Dieguez is the last of eight arrested defendants to plead guilty for their roles in this scheme. Four other defendants have been charged but remain fugitives.

A sentencing hearing is set to take place on March 1, 2022, before Senior United States District Judge Gary L. Sharpe. Dieguez faces up to 20 years in prison; a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater; and up to 3 years of supervised release. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.

This case was investigated by the FBI Albany Field Office and USPIS Boston Division, with assistance from the FBI Field Offices in Miami, Pittsburgh, and San Juan, the USPIS Miami Division, the United States Secret Service Miami Field Office, as well as the New York State Department of Agriculture, Division of Weights and Measures and the New York State Cyber Command Center. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Emily C. Powers.

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