January 31, 2006
Authorities in Yuba County, California were baffled by the sudden rash of identity theft reports. After investigating, deputies found a pattern all of the victims had purchased gas with debit cards at local Arco stations just before thieves broke into their bank accounts.
At the stations in Yuba City, Linda, Redding, Rocklin, Roseville, Willows and Sacramento, the investigators solved the mystery.
The credit card readers on the gas pumps had been slightly altered. New faceplates had been placed over the readers which captured the data from the card. Small cameras were focused on the key pad to record PIN numbers as consumers punched them in.
Once the thieves had the card information and the pin numbers, they created phony cards and visited the nearest ATM machine, where they stole a total of $110,000 from the victims accounts.
Authorities were able to trace the withdrawals to a single ATM at a nearby casino. After reviewing the surveillance tapes, they had a good description of the suspects. It didnt take them long to track them down, since they were still in the casino.
A spokesman for Arco says service station employees have been instructed to step up their monitoring of credit card readers.