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2 sent to prison for Jefferson County gas pump skimming

BEAUMONT — A Houston man was sentenced to more than a year in jail for his role in a gas pump skimming scheme that potentially opened him and an accomplice up to $1 million in available money.

U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield sentenced Carlos Garcia, 36, to 18 months in federal prison during proceedings Thursday in Beaumont.

U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown said information presented in court indicated Garcia and another man were caught Nov. 10, 2017, at Gator’s convenience store, 2890 Dowlen Road in Beaumont.

Officers located Garcia and Alfredo Angel Almaguer-Almira, along with a red Dodge truck, next to a gas pump. The door of the truck was open, revealing a credit card skimming device, consisting of a computer chip and two connector wires.

There was wet caulk around the truck’s doorframe, and a caulk gun and screwdriver were on the floorboard. A search of Garcia revealed he had a set of universal gas pump keys in his pocket.

Forensic analysis of the skimming device found 258 credit card account numbers had been recorded without authorization, many of the numbers identified as belonging to Beaumont residents and businesses that frequently used the gasoline pumps.

Bank records showed the available credit on the 258 accounts totaled approximately $1.2 million.

Garcia and Almaguer-Almira were indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 3.

Almaguer-Almira pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison Jan. 9.