GURNEE – A Chicago man has been arrested in connection with identity theft and other offenses after police found him with dozens of fraudulently re-encoded gift cards, police 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 diesel fuel and it was odd the driver used two credit cards.
The clerk alerted a supervisor and the supervisor also became suspicious as the store recently had 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 gave sheriff’s deputies the location of the box truck.
Sheriff’s deputies located the box truck in the area of Delany Road and Sunset Avenue in Gurnee. Sheriff’s deputies tried to conduct a traffic stop, but the driver initially did not stop, police said. The driver threw a bag out of the window before stopping, police said.
The driver, identified as Ernesto Fallat, 52, of the 1100 block of North Monticello Avenue, eventually stopped and was arrested on numerous traffic violations.
Sheriff’s deputies recovered the bag that Fallat threw out the window and discovered dozens of gift cards with magnetic strips that likely were fraudulently reprogrammed with the credit card information of unknowing victims, police said.
Sheriff’s deputies discovered the box truck was holding several containers equaling about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel. The system was rigged so Fallat could look like he was filling up his truck with diesel; however, the diesel would go directly to the containers inside the truck.
Fallat was charged with identity theft, attempting to flee/elude and several traffic violations.
Sheriff’s detectives continue investigating in an effort to identify potential victims who had their credit card data stolen and fraudulently used. The Illinois State Police will be conducting an inspection of the Isuzu to determine if there are hazardous material violations.
Additional criminal charges are likely, police said.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office reminds the community to regularly check credit card transactions and report any fraudulent activity to the police department and financial institution.