Police believe there could be dozens of identity fraud victims after they arrested a Chicago man involved in a Gurnee area gas station scheme where he used other people’s credit card information.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office responded around 11:30 a.m. Thursday to the Shell gas station, 36725 North Route 41 in unincorporated Gurnee, for a suspicious circumstance report.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Christopher Covelli said an alert gas station attendant became suspicious after the driver of an Isuzu box truck put $1,000 worth of diesel fuel into the truck and used two separate credit cards to do so.
The clerk knew a small box truck of that size would not take $1,000 worth of fuel and they felt it was odd the driver used two credit cards, Covelli said.
The clerk alerted their supervisor and the supervisor also became suspicious since the store had recently been scammed during a similar situation.
The driver of the box truck left the gas station and the supervisor followed the box truck after calling 911. The supervisor was able to inform sheriff’s deputies of the location of the box truck.
Sheriff’s deputies located the box truck in the area of Delany Road and Sunset Avenue in Gurnee.
Covelli said that sheriff’s deputies activated their emergency lights in an attempt to conduct a traffic stop but the driver did not stop right away.
The driver threw a bag out of the window and the driver, identified as Ernesto Fallat, 52, of the 1100 block of North Monticello Avenue in Chicago, eventually stopped and was arrested for numerous traffic violations.
Sheriff’s deputies recovered the bag Fallat threw out the window and discovered dozens of gift cards with a magnetic strip, which were likely fraudulently reprogrammed with the credit card information of unknowing victims.
Sheriff’s deputies also discovered the box truck was holding several containers carrying approximately 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
The system was rigged so Fallat could look like he was filling up his truck with fuel when it would actually go directly to the containers inside the truck, Covelli said.
Fallat was subsequently charged with identity theft, attempting to flee and elude police, speeding, disobeying a traffic control device and operating an uninsured motor vehicle.
Sheriff’s detectives continue investigating in an effort to identify potential victims who had their credit card data stolen and fraudulently used, Covelli said.
The Illinois State Police will be conducting an inspection of the box truck to determine if there are hazardous material violations. Additional criminal charges are likely.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reminds the community to regularly check their credit card transactions and report any fraudulent activity to their local police department and financial institution.