Financial Crimes Intelligence Center Recovers 624 Skimmers And Prevents $171.5 Million In Monetary Losses In Its First Two Years

hand holding credit card

AUSTIN – In the two years since it officially opened, the Texas Financial Crimes Intelligence Center (FCIC) prevented $171,516,831 in monetary losses due to fraud in Texas and recovered 445 credit card skimmers and 5,574 fraudulent credit cards.

The FCIC, located in Tyler, recently opened a Digital Forensics Laboratory that features some of the most sophisticated lab equipment in the state and country. Experts at the laboratory can perform forensics on phones, computers, tablets and skimmers of all types.

The center – the first of its kind in the United States – was created by House Bill 2106 in the 87th Texas Legislature and operates as a partnership between the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and the Smith County District Attorney’s Office. The center’s total two-year budget is $2,650,000.

“When TDLR, Smith County, law enforcement and members of the Texas Legislature began discussing the need for a unit like the FCIC, we never dreamed that it would make the impact it has in such a short time,” said TDLR interim executive director Brian E. Francis. “This remarkable achievement shows the power of all of us working together to protect the people of Texas.”

Among the notable cases that FCIC investigators have assisted with during the agency’s two-year history:

  • A large organized credit card skimming operation allegedly run by foreign nationals in the Houston area. The group was placing credit card skimmers on card readers at several pharmacies and then creating fraudulent credit cards using information gathered from skimmed cards.
  • A large organized fuel theft case that allegedly stole more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel from gas stations across the Houston region. Eight people were arrested in connection with the cases in May 2023. According to law enforcement, the theft ring illegally entered fuel pumps and manipulated the system that measures the amount of fuel being dispersed to show significantly smaller purchases than what was dispensed. The suspects then coordinated efforts to pump and steal the fuel, which was taken to truck yards that illegally stored and sold the stolen fuel to truck drivers at a discounted rate and without charging the required state motor fuels tax.
  • A large organized fuel theft case that resulted in the arrests of three men in Odessa in July 2022. The FCIC provided intelligence and investigative guidance to the agencies that assisted them in assembling enough information to charge the men with Engaging in Organized Criminal activity. They were accused of stealing 300 gallons of fuel at an Odessa convenience store by tampering with the fuel pump metering system. Investigators believed the men also were involved in stealing more than 3,600 gallons of fuel in other incidents and are likely to be related to much more.

“I am so proud of the accomplishments of the FCIC over the last two years. They have made Texas the leader in stopping organized financial crime and saving taxpayers from fraud,” said Jacob Putman, Smith County Criminal District Attorney.

FCIC Operational Results, Calendar Years 2022 – 2023

2022 2023 Total, 2022-2023
Total amount of loss prevented or recovered $48,493,324 $123,026,504 $171,516,828
Multi-jurisdictional cases coordinated 91 44 135
Skimmers recovered 396 228 624
Suspects identified 217 363 580
Intelligence products distributed to law enforcement 472 398 870
Intelligence products distributed to private industry 213 128 341
Credit cards recovered 1,629 3,945 5,574
Skimmers recovered with information provided by financial institutions 79 53 132

TDLR regulates motor fuel metering and quality and collects consumer complaints and merchant reports related to credit card skimmers. The Smith County DA aggressively investigates and prosecutes criminals engaging in organized financial crimes such as fraud related to gasoline pump skimmers.

About TDLR

TDLR provides regulatory oversight for a broad range of occupations, businesses, facilities, and equipment in Texas. The agency protects the health and safety of Texans by ensuring they are served by qualified, licensed professionals. Inspections of individuals, businesses, and equipment are done on a regular basis to safeguard the public. Currently, the agency regulates 38 business and occupational licensing programs with almost 1,000,000 licensees across the state.

Visit TDLR’s website for more information and resources. You can search the TDLR licensee database, and also find past violations in which a final order was issued against companies or individuals. TDLR’s Customer Service line is available anytime between 7 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 1-800-803-9202. TDLR representatives are fluent in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.