Men try to pay for car with gift cards



Posted on December 6, 2011 at 7:18 PM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 6 at 7:22 PM

AUSTIN -- Frank Ready has several shiny cars for sale on his North Austin lot. Last week, he said a dark blue Nissan Maxima caught the attention of Pedro Prieto and Yordan Llauger.

“They asked if I took Visa cards,” Ready said. “And I said, 'Yeah.'”

He said the men returned the next day to pay for the car using 90 Visa gift cards. Each card had $100 on it.

“Which is crazy,” Ready said. “Nobody buys a car with $100 gift cards.”

Their mistake turned into a lead for police. Ready grew suspicious and called police after the men tried to make the purchase.

“We eventually found them to be in possession of 28 cloned or counterfeit credit cards with different peoples’ personal information,” said Sgt. Lee Rogers with the Austin Police Department.

Police believe the information had been stolen through so-called skimming.

“Skimming involves taking someone’s credit card and swiping it or skimming it through a handheld device,” Sgt. Rogers said.

Police say skimming has happened at least two times in Austin within the past month.

In November they arrested a 25-year-old maid who allegedly skimmed data from guests at the Stephen F. Austin hotel. Another case involves a restaurant. The cases may or may not be related. 

“As we’ve been going about, we’ve been getting some more reports coming in,” Sgt. Rogers said. “We are trying to link as many cases as we can.”

As for the case on Ready’s lot, he is just glad he could help.

“Makes you feel good,” he said.

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