GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Authorities said a man was sentenced to 70 months in prison on Thursday for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft after he used a kind of technology to steal credit and debit card information from customers at stores in East Tennessee.
They said Yamier Tellez, 32, currently of Tampa, Florida, traveled to East Tennessee in November 2017 with another person to steal banking information using "skimming devices." These kinds of devices are usually installed in point-of-sale terminals, where customers usually swipe their credit cards when paying for items in stores.
They are usually designed to be unnoticeable, mimicking the design of the machine. Whenever a person swipes their card, it collects the information on it. Thieves can then put that information on a separate card with a magnetic strip and use it as if they had stolen the original credit card.
According to authorities, a skimming device was installed at a local business in East Tennessee. Tellez and the other person, Lazaro Quintana Martinez, 26, would then re-encode the information it collected onto prepaid gift cards and used them to obtain cash, buy money orders and purchase gift cards through East Tennessee.
Authorities said store surveillance footage captured their actions, including footage from local Walgreens, CVS and Kroger stores.
When Tellez returned to Florida, he was stopped for a traffic violation in Lee County. Authorities said he had thumb drives containing more than 300 account numbers and corresponding customer information. They also said he had a counterfeit gift card with a handwritten zip code for Greeneville in his wallet. The card had the account information of a Greeneville resident who banked with Eastman Credit Union.
The average yield for each account was more than $1,400 in fraudulent transactions, authorities said.
Eastman Credit Union lost around $40,000 from the fraudulent transactions, according to a release. Tellez will need to pay restitution for it, they said.
Martinez previously pled guilty to conspiracy and aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to 24 months in prison in East Tennessee. He was also sentenced to 51 months in prison in the Middle District of Florida for additional identity theft offenses.