Sentencing trial begins for Austin man involved in Tyler card-skimming operation

Sentencing trial begins for Austin man involved in Tyler card-skimming operation
Felipe Manuel Nieves Perez, 33, of Austin, appears in court on the first day of his sentencing hearing Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. Perez pleaded guilty earlier this year to skimming credit card numbers. He's facing a life sentence. (Arthur Clayborn/KLTV Photojournalist)

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) -The sentencing trial started Tuesday for an Austin man who pleaded guilty to skimming credit card numbers.

Felipe Manuel Nieves Perez, 33, is facing a possible life sentence for his involvement in a card skimming operation in Tyler.

The first person tried in the case, Yoerlan Suarez-Corrales, 39, of Austin was sentenced to life earlier this year.

During the trial the state presented details of Perez and others charged in the operation, which involved installing the skimmers with blue tooth capability to be accessed by a laptop used in vehicles pulled up to the pump.

Detective Jeff Roberts from the Tyler Police Department said it is possible to gain from 30-100 credit card numbers from each pump a day. Roberts said in a few months, over $77,000 was laundered by buying gift cards at Sam Clubs.

Donald Malmstrom, a Tyler Police investigator testified he found 40 gift cards hidden inside a panel created in the trunk of a Fiat 500. He also said a hotel receipt in Perez’ name was found in the same car.

Surveillance video at the gas station was used to identify Perez’ hand by a ring he wore while opening a pump to check the skimmer.

Two laptops were seized by the state. Michael Dawson, the secret service fraud crime investigator, testified that the information for 240 stolen credit cards was found on the two computers.

Perez was arrested on July 27, 2018 after returning to Exxon station in the 800 block of south southeast Loop 323.

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