COOPER CITY, FLA. (WSVN) - A Miami-Dade County man is facing a list of serious charges after, authorities said, he used stolen credit card information to purchase hundreds of gallons of gasoline in Cooper City.
Forty-five-year-old Erik Sanchez Perez appeared in a Broward County courtroom on Friday. He faces 70 counts of possession of counterfeit credit cards.
According to Broward Sheriff’s Office investigators, Sanchez Perez drove a Ford F-350 flatbed truck outfitted to carry 500 gallons of fuel.
Officials said BSO Detective Ryan Zimber spotted what he had suspected was an illegal fuel truck along Stirling Road. Officials said Sanchez Perez was behind the wheel of the vehicle.
Investigators said Zimber spotted a gift card in the driver’s pocket that turned out to be re-encoded with stolen information. Deputies later found 70 similar cards in the truck, along with two compartments in the vehicle used to store gas.
Friday afternoon, Zimber showed 7News the hidden compartments.
“This right here and this is all is fabricated just to hold the extra fuel,” he said.
Deputies said Sanchez Perez used gift cards loaded with stolen credit card information to fill up his makeshift fuel truck. He then resold the fuel to whomever would buy it.
“Sometimes it could be, say, a tow truck company or someone with a work truck, a landscaping company that has diesel fuel and needs to use the fuel,” said Zimber, “and if they use a lot of gas, it’s easier for them to pay $2 a gallon than almost $4 a gallon right now.”
Officials said those transactions brought big profits for the suspect, who basically acquired the gas for free.
Rolando Casanova, who also appeared in court on Friday, was accused of taking part in the same kind of scam. Investigators said he had 44 Starbucks gift cards re-encoded with stolen credit card information, as well as more than 300 gallons of fuel stored in hidden compartments in his truck.
Authorities said the scam is not only theft; it’s also unsafe. Just as a 7News was shooting footage of Sanchez Perez’s flatbed truck, deputies discovered one of the vehicle’s hidden compartments was leaking fuel, creating a hazmat situation in the BSO lot.
7News cameras captured Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue crews mopping up the leaked fuel, Friday evening.
Investigators said there’s always the possibility of an accident on the road.
“It can cause a huge fire and a huge environmental hazard,” said Zimber.
Sanchez Perez is being held at the Broward County Jail on $71,000 bond.
Copyright 2023 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.