Neighborly conversation helps crack nationwide skimming ring

Posted at 11:47 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-25 00:48:49-04

LOUISA COUNTY, Va. -- Inside his self-described "man-cave" in the woods of Louisa County alongside Lake Anna, Chief Deputy Major Donnie Lowe with the Louisa County Sheriff's Office had a friendly chat with a neighbor last December that quickly turned into a criminal case.

"He just comes up and starts talking and I'm like, ‘hi how are you,’ and he's like ‘fine I think my identity was stolen,’" Lowe said.

But, Lowe never imagined where it would take him.

Chief Deputy Major Donnie Lowe

"We think it's just the tip of the iceberg, part of a larger group that's going around and doing this," Lowe said.

Lowe sent one of his detectives to a restaurant in Fredericksburg and another one in Maryland, where his neighbor's credit card was used without his knowledge.

They retrieved surveillance video of two suspects at both locations.

"We were able to find the identity of one of the individuals and from there we were able to find the other three," Lowe said.

Lowe said all four suspects live outside Miami, Florida, and are originally from Cuba.

He said the group allegedly put skimming devices on gas pumps at two convenience stores near Lake Anna, and they stole people's credit card information.

They have all since been arrested.

Their names are Julio Cesar Marquez-Franco, Braya Hernandez, Yesinia Rodriguez-Lopez, and Breysis Martinez.

(From L to R, Breysis Martinez, Braya Hernandez, Yesinia Rodriguez-Lopez, Julio Cesar Marquez-Franco)

"We can actually put them in cases in other states, but we also think some of the credit card frauds we're seeing are a part of a bigger organization," Lowe said.

Lowe loosely termed the group an "organized crime ring" that operates across the country.

"You train people how to do it you give them the equipment and you let them go do their thing," Lowe said.

He said he hopes his neighborly efforts will keep skimmers out of Louisa County.

"Don't do that here, we'll come and get you," Lowe said.

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