ALBANY, NEW YORK – Marlon Palacios, age 33, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, pled guilty today to participating in a conspiracy to commit access device fraud, as well as for committing aggravated identity theft, for taking part in a nationwide gas station skimming scheme that involved stealing the banking and personal information of residents of Upstate and Central New York who used the “pay at the pump” feature to make gasoline purchases.
The announcement was made by Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon; Thomas F. Relford, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and Acting Inspector in Charge Joshua McCallister, Boston Division, United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS).
As part of his guilty plea, Palacios admitted to being a part of a conspiracy that, between December 2015 and July 2019, obtained the credit and debit card information of gas station customers using skimming devices surreptitiously installed inside gas pumps. Using the stolen information, members of the conspiracy created fake debit and credit cards, and then used those fake cards to obtain money orders and gift cards, and to withdraw cash from ATMs. Members of the conspiracy enriched themselves with some of the money orders, gift cards, and cash, and also provided money orders and gift cards to members of a money laundering conspiracy who used various bank and gift card exchange website transactions to obscure the nature and source of the funds.
Senior District Judge Gary L. Sharpe is scheduled to sentence Palacios on August 12, 2021. For the access device fraud conspiracy charge, Palacios faces up to 5 years in prison; a fine of up to $250,000; and up to 3 years of supervised release. For the aggravated identity theft charge, Palacios faces a term of imprisonment of 2 years, to be served consecutive to any other term of imprisonment. 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 is being investigated by the FBI Albany Field Office and USPIS Boston Division, with assistance from the FBI Field Offices in San Juan, Miami, and Pittsburgh, the USPIS Miami Division, and the United States Secret Service Miami Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rick Belliss and Emily C. Powers.