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Prosecutors charge Blue Springs man in alleged credit card skimming scheme at gas pumps

In World
January 26, 2024

Jackson County prosecutors have charged a Blue Springs man with four felonies for allegedly making and installing devices at gas station pumps to steal credit card information from customers.

Manuel A. Espinosa-Tozo, of Blue Springs, is accused of trafficking in stolen identities, attempting to steal $25,000 or more, illegal use of a credit card scanner and possession of a forging instrument.

Online court records show a warrant for Espinosa-Tozo’s arrest was issued Thursday calling for him to be held on a $50,000 cash bond.

Police began investigating the case late last week when credit card skimmers — small devices used to steal information from a credit card — were discovered at three separate gas stations in Blue Springs.

Surveillance video from a Hy-Vee gas station was provided to police by its security team. Detectives were advised of a suspicious vehicle parked near a pump where one of the devices had been found.

In the video, the driver is seen “messing with” the gas pump near the credit card slot before leaving without purchasing gas, according to an affidavit filed in support of criminal charges for Espinosa-Tozo.

Another surveillance camera at a QuikTrip gas station captured footage of the same vehicle, a Ford F-150 with a black tank in the truck bed, the affidavit says.

A license plate-reading camera led police to Espinosa-Tozo’s home address. On Wednesday morning, police conducted a traffic stop as he was pulling into his driveway.

During an interview with police, Espinosa-Tozo consented to searches of his truck and home, the affidavit says. Police obtained a search warrant for the property after noticing what appeared to be evidence of an illegal credit card skimming operation in his home.

Police seized as evidence several 3-D printers, more than 60 cards with a magnetic strip, more than 30 faceplates similar to ones found at the gas stations, computers and other tools authorities believe were used to steal credit card information.

Earlier this week, Blue Springs police warned of the scam after being called out to investigate the devices. Authorities warn that credit card skimmers are typically used by thieves at fuel pumps and ATMs.

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