The use of highly sophisticated scanners

A large number of purchases and bank transactions in the U.S. are made via the use of magnetically encoded cards and have become the norm in today’s world. The use of such cards has provided technically skilled thieves a huge opportunity to tap the financial resources of their victims before those unfortunate souls know what has happened. The crime often involves the use of card skimmers.

Authorities have warned that card skimmers have been placed on ATM’s and gas pumps throughout Southern California. Credit card information is collected at the cash register or through the use of highly sophisticated scanners that are by and large undetectable by consumers. They often are molded plastic or metal card reader simulators placed over the gas pump’s scanning equipment. The equipment can be installed in the time it takes to withdraw cash or fill up a gas tank.

Similar devices are used on ATM’s where skillful criminals use the same paint banks use, allowing their devices to blend into the ATM. Criminals employ a pinhole camera on or near the ATM to capture a customer’s personal identification number.

Skimmer groups are known to operate in Southern California, and in a recent case, the manager of several Los Angeles area gas stations was charged with access-device fraud. In this operation, the stolen information was used to purchase gasoline that was later resold.

Losses of more than $50,000

Federal prosecutors and the FBI contend that this scheme involved identity theft against 50 victims and losses of more than $50,000. The manager and his cohorts were allegedly observed buying gasoline at several stations in Los Angeles using credit card numbers later determined to have been stolen.

The group was named in two criminal complaints filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles charging them with conspiracy to commit access-device fraud, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman