Skip to comments.Illegal ATM Code Scanning Scam Uncovered At Arco Stations [CA, worldwide?]
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 The victims all reported using a debit card at a gas station in Linda, then found money had been withdrawn from their accounts at an ATM in Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln.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.
Should reduce purchases at Arco I would think.
Why did they set the bail so low?
Circle K, 7-11, other gas stations. It looks like it could be coast-to-coast.
it's california, remember???
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.
and they wonder why people fight all attempts to bring about a cashless society
up I80= should read up I80 and 65 from here.
ping for later read.
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.
(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.
I still can't figure out why people use debit cards.
I have never used my Personal Identification Number Number in California.
What? No picture of the contraption? I wonder why not.
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?
And my German ancestors were roundly condemned....
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for that link. I was hoping someone would show what these theft devices look like.
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