TAMPA, Fla. - Another arrest has been made in a possible ring of thieves pumping diesel into concealed bladder tanks inside their vehicles, then paying the expensive bill with bogus credit cards.
The vans, trucks and SUVs are modified, have false bottoms, and are converted to hide high-capacity tanks. The drivers can make multiple stops in under 30 minutes, swiping numerous fraudulent cards, and driving off with dangerous amounts of diesel.
The criminals turn an illegal profit by selling the gas and put lives at danger driving on local roadways in essentially a moving bomb.
“So you fill a very large quantity of fuel and go down the road and say, for whatever reason, an accident happens, now you have an explosive situation on your hands with that amount of flammable fuel,” said Pasco County Sheriff’s Office PIO, Amanda Hunter.
Hillsborough County deputies caught four different men this week hitting gas stations all across the county. The group siphoned nearly 300 gallons of diesel, worth more than $800 and were nabbed carrying more than 100 gift cards re-coded with stolen credit card information.
The criminals are facing multiple charges including trafficking counterfeit cred cards, unlawful conveyance of fuel, and fraudulently obtaining motor or diesel fuel.
Angel Marin was arrested Wednesday for fuel fraud. The 49-year-old has nearly 150 counts.
"This defendant is using these credit cards or gift cards rather, with the information on it for the use of obtaining fuel," Hunter said.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating if the four arrests this week are part of a larger crime ring.