EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) — Evansville Police believe they caught a man involved in an organized theft ring that has plagued many large cities.

On December 29, Evansville Police Department detectives started looking into several credit card fraud incidents that totaled over $8,000. Police say the first incident happened a few months prior in October.

Local gas station employees told detectives at least three different suspects driving Ford F-350 trucks visited the gas station 42 times using stolen credit cards to pump large amounts of diesel fuel.

On New Years Day around 6:45 p.m., police say one of the gas station employees dialed 911 as one of the suspect Ford F-350 trucks pulled into the gas station. Using surveillance video, detectives believed this was one of the trucks involved in the theft ring.

Officers say they arrived as suspect Lazaro Oulego Gonzalez was still pumping gas into the truck. According to EPD, Gonzalez was not a local resident and was also seen on surveillance video at the gas station previously.

Gonzalez was detained and interrogated by detectives. Police say that Gonzalez claimed he found a gift card and that’s what he was using to buy gas. The truck did not belong to the suspect, police say, but he refused to say who the owner was.

Officers say that the gift card contained info that belonged to a VISA cardholder who did not give permission to have that card used.

Gonzalez was arrested and booked into the Vanderburgh County Jail and faces Theft,
Forgery, Fraud and Conspiracy charges.

“Officers/detectives found a large bladder hidden under the toolbox in the bed of the truck
that Gonzalez was driving,” officers say in a press release. “The bladder could potentially hold hundreds of gallons of gasoline.”

Detectives believe the truck had been making back-and-forth trips to several large cities daily over the past month.

Police say this crime pattern is consistent with non-local organized groups of criminals who plant skimming devices on gas pumps, which electronically steal credit card information from unsuspecting victims. According to detectives, the credit card information is then electronically transferred to blank cards, which are then used to buy thousands of dollars’ worth of diesel fuel. EPD believes the gas is then driven to another city to be sold.

“This is a large operation undertaken by these suspects, costing countless of numbers of
victims and businesses across the United States millions of dollars,” EPD officers say. “At this time, Gonzalez is the only suspect who has been arrested in Vanderburgh County for this organized crime ring, although there are other suspects who were involved.”

If you have any information, you’re asked to call the EPD Financial Crimes Unit at (812) 436-7959. If you have been a victim of credit card fraud, officials urge you to report the incident to your local police.