Gas stop in West Melbourne starts credit card fraud investigation

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WEST MELBOURNE, Fla. —

A gas station stop has opened up a massive credit card fraud investigation in West Melbourne. At about the time the suspect was filling up his tank, fraud investigators from Sam's Club and Discover Card were watching the activity at the gas station.

Ernis Valdez was arrested by West Melbourne police after he was spotted using multiple credit cards to fill up at a Sam's Club gas pump off of U.S. Route 192.

 Investigators said those cards belonged to Valdez but the accounts did not.

"We believe there were a series of victims, maybe more than 20," said Sgt. Carlos Navedo of the West Melbourne Police Department.

When the suspect was brought into custody he had several credit cards, all in his name. But on at least one of those cards, the account information on the magnetic strip belonged to someone else.

"I think it's technology. Everybody is vulnerable, no matter how careful you are, it's a possibility," said Brevard County resident Faye Dowling.

That's why police said it's so important for local residents to pay close attention to their credit card statements and to take a look at their credit report.

So far, West Melbourne police have been able to identify two victims, one of them in Virginia. She had no idea her credit card account was compromised.
 
Police believe that Valdez could be responsible for more than $100,000 in fraudulent transactions in the past four months at Sam's Club alone.

"It's going to take us awhile to ID all the victims. Once we do, there will be some charges pending," said Navedo.

Police said merchants can help fight this type of fraud by holding on to a credit card until the receipt prints. They said, if the last four numbers on the receipt don't match the last four numbers on the card, there's a problem.