Cleveland man allegedly used 47 different stolen pre-paid cards to buy $5K worth of fuel

Published: Jul. 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM CDT
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Source: Lufkin Police Department
Source: Lufkin Police Department
Carlos Miranda (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Carlos Miranda (Source: Angelina County Jail)
Source: KTRE Staff
Source: KTRE Staff

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Two days after the Lufkin Police Department put out the word that they were looking for him, LPD officers caught the 46-year-old Cleveland man who allegedly used at least 47 different stolen credit cards to buy more than $5,000 worth of diesel.

Carlos Miranda is still being held in the Angelina County Jail on a state-jail felony charge of credit or debit card abuse and a Class B misdemeanor charge of driving while license invalid charge. Collectively, his bail has been set at $55,000.

According to the arrest affidavit, Lufkin Police officers were dispatched to a convenience store in the 900 block of John Redditt Drive on reference to a possible fraud or theft. When one of the officers talked to the clerk that the driver of a truck at one of the pumps was making suspicious transactions.

The clerk told police that the driver of the truck had made four different transactions and used a different Visa credit card for each one. In addition, the clerk said she thought it was suspicious that the truck was holding that much fuel.

According to the affidavit, the clerk also told police that her management had told her about a previous incident where a driver of a truck matching the same description made the same type of suspicious transactions. As a result, the police were called for that incident as well.

In the previous incident on July 10, the same suspect pumped more than $5,000 worth of fuel, using 47 different transactions with different credit card numbers to do it.

The LPD officer who arrived on the scene first spotted, the suspect's vehicle, a maroon 2003 Ford F-350 dually sitting at one of the fuel pumps. The driver was identified as Miranda.

Miranda told the officer that he was traveling back from his brother's house in Tyler to his residence in Cleveland, according to the affidavit. When the officer asked Miranda about the multiple transactions, he allegedly pulled three pre-paid Walmart cards from his wallet and explained they were the cards he had used.

Another LPD officer went inside the convenience store and had the clerk print off the receipts for the man's fuel purchases. The last four numbers shown on the receipts did not match the pre-paid cards Miranda displayed, according to the affidavit.

When the LPD officers asked Miranda about the discrepancies, he denied them consent to search his vehicle. At that point, one of the officers said he saw three pre-paid $50 Walmart cards on top of the pump near Miranda's pickup.

The affidavit stated that when one of the officers retrieved the cards, Miranda "quickly got defensive and stated they were not his cards."

According to the affidavit, one of the LPD officers on the scene noticed that the entire bed of the truck had been modified to be a large fuel tank. It looked as though Miranda had tried to hide the fuel tank by adding tool boxes around the edge of the bed.

"This large 500- to 600-gallon fuel tank was completely concealed and hidden you are able to look down into bed," the affidavit stated. "It was made in a way that would not be recognizable traveling down the road."

When the officer gave Miranda his license back, he put it back in his wallet and allegedly retrieved the three pre-paid Walmart cards that he had previously said weren't his. He got into his truck and tried to leave the parking lot.

Shortly after Miranda pulled out onto John Redditt Drive, Lufkin Police officers made a traffic stop on his vehicle and arrested him for driving with an invalid license.

A previous East Texas news story stated that on July 10, the clerk at a Chevron station at the corner of John Redditt Drive and Old Union Road told police that she thought something was wrong when she saw a maroon Ford pickup with a large fuel container in the back parked at the same pump for more than an hour.

When the clerk looked at the transactions, she found that the customer had bought $125 worth of diesel 41 times with 41 different cards. The gas station manager also said that on the next day, someone driving a green Ford pickup with the same type of large fuel container went to the pump and bought $125 worth of diesel six times with six different cards.

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