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Illegal ATM Code Scanning Scam Uncovered At Arco Stations [CA, worldwide?]
KTVU ^ | 10:14 am PST January 31, 2006 | KTVU

Posted on 02/01/2006 6:36:33 PM PST by xcamel

AUBURN, Calif. -- Thieves attached an illegal scanning device to gas pumps at Arco stations from Sacramento to Redding, then used the data to steal at least $110,000 from automatic teller machines, the Placer County Sheriff's Department said.

The discreet black plastic faceplates were attached to debit card readers at ampm stations to capture card data, and a tiny camera recorded users typing in their PIN numbers, said Sheriff's Lt. George Malim.

The scheme was uncovered after Yuba County Sheriff's detectives notified the Secret Service on Jan. 23 that they received multiple, similar reports of identity theft, according to an affidavit filed with a federal judge on Friday. The victims all reported using a debit card at a gas station in Linda, then found money had been withdrawn from their accounts at an ATM in Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln.

Investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from the casino and arrested alleged ring leader Claudiu Hotea, 32, and associate Emanuel Moldoveanu, 34, on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy and possession of forged access cards. Moldoveanu posted $200,000 bail Saturday.

Investigators reported that when they arrested Hotea at the casino, he had five Starbucks gift cards with victims' debit card numbers encoded in their plastic strips. They are still looking for people whose information may have been stolen at stations in Linda, Rocklin, Roseville, Redding, Oroville, Yuba City, Willows and Sacramento.

Placer County Sheriff's Detective Jim Hudson said the case is the most sophisticated he's seen.

Arco spokesman Phil Cochrane said employees are now monitoring card readers more frequently.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: atm; crime; scam
This is getting bigger by the moment - 90 now arrested, may be a "global" atm theft ring.
1 posted on 02/01/2006 6:36:35 PM PST by xcamel
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To: xcamel

Should reduce purchases at Arco I would think.


2 posted on 02/01/2006 6:39:02 PM PST by A CA Guy (God Bless America, God bless and keep safe our fighting men and women.)
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To: xcamel

Why did they set the bail so low?


3 posted on 02/01/2006 6:41:17 PM PST by CurlyDave
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To: A CA Guy
It's a tad deceptive, they're finding this setup all over the place.

Circle K, 7-11, other gas stations. It looks like it could be coast-to-coast.

4 posted on 02/01/2006 6:41:47 PM PST by xcamel (Exposing clandestine operations is treason. 13 knots make a noose.)
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To: CurlyDave

it's california, remember???


5 posted on 02/01/2006 6:42:26 PM PST by xcamel (Exposing clandestine operations is treason. 13 knots make a noose.)
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To: xcamel

Just 10 mins up I80 from here. Local news covered this. I've read about the perps using something to read credit/ATM cards before but this appears widespread.


6 posted on 02/01/2006 6:43:23 PM PST by afnamvet
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To: xcamel

and they wonder why people fight all attempts to bring about a cashless society


7 posted on 02/01/2006 6:44:23 PM PST by shooter223 (the government should fear the citizens......not the other way around)
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To: A CA Guy

Exactly


8 posted on 02/01/2006 6:45:09 PM PST by A message
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To: afnamvet

up I80= should read up I80 and 65 from here.


9 posted on 02/01/2006 6:46:01 PM PST by afnamvet
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To: xcamel

ping for later read.


10 posted on 02/01/2006 6:49:55 PM PST by IllumiNaughtyByNature (There is an APB out for my tagline. If you find it, FReepmail me.)
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To: CurlyDave

Bet the $200,000 gets forfeited.

This guy had that much $$$ to bail himself out, I will bet that he is in the wind.

He has more stashed somewhere, and he knows how to make lots of money really fast with this kind of scheme.


11 posted on 02/01/2006 6:50:21 PM PST by ridesthemiles
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To: xcamel

(more)

(CBS 5) Police have captured the suspected ringleaders behind a sophisticated ATM scam in Northern California.

Through just one gas station ATM kiosk, at least 90 people were scammed out of more than $110,000.

And that's just one incident. Investigators have yet to examine the losses at seven other locations -- all of them Arco ampm gas stations.

It's a scam that has the Secret Service investigating leads in the Bay Area and possibly other states.

In the time it takes to swipe an ATM card and punch in a PIN code, thieves are stealing the account numbers of hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of people.

Kathy and Roger French lost more than $3,000.

"Our checking account is over $1,000 overdrawn, and they've emptied out our savings account," Kathy French said.

Kathy found out when she tried to buy medication for her son, Willie, who has Cystic Fibrosis.

The suspects use an electronic card reader and a small spy camera mounted near the ATM card slot. The reader records the account number, and the camera records video of ATM users punching in their PIN codes.

From there, suspects transfer the account numbers to any card with a magnetic strip.

In many cases, the accounts drained money from the ATMs located in at least four Indian casinos.

This is believed to be the work of a Romanian crime syndicate based in Southern California.

"There's a large amount of fraud coming from East European countries," said Placer County Sheriff's Det. Jim Hudson. "Especially when it comes to debit card fraud and credit card fraud, a lot of transactions are being conducted in an overseas atmosphere. It's alarmingly climbing higher and higher."

In connection with the ampm case, 32-year-old Claudia Hotea and 34-year-old Emanuel Modveanu have been arrested. Both are Romanian immigrants, and investigators say there could be as many as six other arrests.

Ampm gas stations became the target of choice because they accept only debit cards. Investigators say that makes it a lot easier to match account numbers and PIN codes. The loses could ultimately involve hundreds of people and maybe millions of dollars.

The scam was first discovered in the Yuba County town of Linda. Then, the recording devices surfaced in Yuba City, Oroville, Willows, Redding, Roseville, Rocklin and Sacramento. An identical recording device was recently found on an ATM in San Francisco.

In Hayward, Mike and Barbara Raymond were recently victimized to the tune of almost $2,000. They don't know how, but the money was withdrawn from ATMs in the Ukraine.

"How could that happen? I didn't lose my card. I didn't know how they could be getting money out of my account without my card or my PIN number," said Barbara Raymond.


12 posted on 02/01/2006 6:52:26 PM PST by xcamel (Exposing clandestine operations is treason. 13 knots make a noose.)
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To: xcamel

I still can't figure out why people use debit cards.


13 posted on 02/01/2006 6:55:20 PM PST by japaneseghost (()
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To: xcamel
typing in their PIN numbers

I have never used my Personal Identification Number Number in California.

14 posted on 02/01/2006 7:00:15 PM PST by Graybeard58 (Remember and pray for Sgt. Matt Maupin - MIA/POW- Iraq since 04/09/04)
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To: xcamel
In 6 years we have been the victims of credit card fraud 5 times. We were told not to use a credit card at restaurants because if they take the credit card away from the table, the waiter/ess can run a blank card and pick up all your info. They usually use it for a week and then discard it before the charges catch up to you. This is in SoCal. It's a real pain!!
15 posted on 02/01/2006 7:05:03 PM PST by originalbuckeye
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To: xcamel
Placer County Sheriff's Detective Jim Hudson said the case is the most sophisticated he's seen.

is this code for: dang, this is too big for my department, I'm going to have to call the feds
16 posted on 02/01/2006 7:06:50 PM PST by no-to-illegals
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To: xcamel

What? No picture of the contraption? I wonder why not.


17 posted on 02/01/2006 7:41:45 PM PST by Abcdefg
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To: Abcdefg
What? No picture of the contraption? I wonder why not.

Link to older article and photo

18 posted on 02/01/2006 8:57:42 PM PST by Northern Alliance
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To: xcamel
This is getting bigger by the moment - 90 now arrested, may be a "global" atm theft ring.

This may just be a "D'OH!" moment for me, but doesn't it seem useful for the authorities to publicize the devices used, including the "tiny" camera so other consumers can "look out for themselves"?

It also sounds like Arco did not see fit to tamper proof their equipment. Lowest bidder stuff?

19 posted on 02/01/2006 10:02:43 PM PST by Publius6961
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To: xcamel
This is believed to be the work of a Romanian crime syndicate based in Southern California.

And my German ancestors were roundly condemned....

20 posted on 02/01/2006 10:07:33 PM PST by ARealMothersSonForever
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To: xcamel
It's a tad deceptive, they're finding this setup all over the place.

That's correct; this type of ATM theft also been going on for quite a while, and not just in the U.S. For instance, here is a Snopes page from 2002 on the subject.

Maybe we will finally see a swing back to more folks using cash.

21 posted on 02/02/2006 3:10:57 AM PST by snowsislander
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To: xcamel
Investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from the casino and arrested alleged ring leader Claudiu Hotea

Can you say 'dumb' or what? This person uses a VIDEO camera to capture the pin, and then shows a total unawareness of a video surveillance camera which is what leads to their arrest.

"He who lives by the swrod, dies by the sword."

22 posted on 02/02/2006 3:14:58 AM PST by AmericaUnited
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To: snowsislander

Concur. I like cash, personally. And I hate using an ATM that's not my bank's, and keep an eye on those for hardware add-ons.


23 posted on 02/02/2006 3:28:09 AM PST by FreedomPoster (Guns themselves are fairly robust; their chief enemies are rust and politicians) (NRA)
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To: japaneseghost
I still can't figure out why people use debit cards.

Funny you should mention that. A few days ago, on a different thread, posters were cursing "check writers" as they were the cause of all that was wrong with the world. Nary a ill word about their beloved debit cards.

24 posted on 02/02/2006 3:36:45 AM PST by csvset
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To: xcamel

The checking account I pay my bills from is not connected to the checking account I use my debit card with, and my savings account is at a completely different bank altogether. With all the possibilities for fraud, it's too risky to keep all your money in one place.


25 posted on 02/02/2006 3:44:03 AM PST by Eepsy
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To: Eepsy
Agreed, if you spread it around, no one can get to all of it in one shot.

I recommend to my employees that they set up a "walking around money" account with it's own debit/ATM card, and just transfer $100-$200 to that account automatically, for just that reason.

26 posted on 02/02/2006 4:17:34 AM PST by xcamel (Exposing clandestine operations is treason. 13 knots make a noose.)
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To: xcamel
I say We all use cash as much as possible. I don't trust ATMs or on-line banking. Only use credit cards for purchases you initiate.
27 posted on 02/02/2006 4:18:56 AM PST by wolfcreek
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To: Northern Alliance

Thanks for that link. I was hoping someone would show what these theft devices look like.


28 posted on 02/02/2006 4:35:07 AM PST by Fester Chugabrew
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