Police say ‘Scale is staggering’ after gang-linked stealth devices emerge in six states

Police say ‘Scale is staggering’ after gang-linked stealth devices emerge in six states

Six people were arrested for allegedly conspiring to steal shoppers’ credit card information.

Scammers residing in the country illegally are allegedly placing credit card skimming devices in ATMs and other payment gateway machines in several states.

A group of illegal immigrants aged 20-23 have been arrested for allegedly planting fraudulent devices in credit card machines in New England.Credit: KTLA
Six immigrants allegedly withdrew $300,000 from victims’ accountsCredit: KTLA
Card skimming technology involves small devices placed inside credit card machines that automatically steal shoppers’ card detailsSource: Getty

Authorities announced charges against six illegal immigrants on Tuesday, CW affiliate KTLA reported It was reported.

“The charging documents allege that members of the conspiracy placed card skimming devices in ATMs at banks in Bristol and Westerly, Rhode Island, and payment terminals at retail stores in Johnston, Warwick and Coventry, Rhode Island, and payment terminals at retail stores in Avon, Raynham, Seekonk and Walpole, Massachusetts,” the statement said.

The Department of Homeland Security discovered card skimming devices at more than 20 branches of a major retailer, including branches in Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

“Members of the conspiracy allegedly withdrew more than $300,000 from the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims locally and made purchases at an unknown number of retail locations.”

Card skimming devices allow criminals to steal account information and PIN numbers after customers insert their debit or credit cards into ATMs or payment terminals.

These devices are often so small that customers may not notice them unless they are searching.

In addition to embedding card-skimming technology in the machines, some thieves are even placing a microscopic video camera in the card machine to record shoppers entering their PIN codes.

What is a skimmer device?

A skimmer device is a fraudulent tool designed to steal sensitive information from credit or debit cards during a transaction.

  • Think of a card skimmer as a sneaky thief hiding in ATMs or card machines.
  • Its job is to secretly steal your credit or debit card information when you use it for a transaction.
  • These devices are like little spies that can copy your card details, including your card number and PIN code, without you knowing.
  • Card readers can be cleverly disguised to look just like regular card readers, making them harder to spot.
  • Once bad actors have your information, they can use it to make fake cards or make purchases without your permission, which can cause a lot of trouble and stress.
  • To protect yourself from these insidious devices, it is important to always be careful and check for anything unusual before using card machines.

The six people arrested allegedly stole account information from victims who used self-checkout at retail stores and ATMs.

Rhode Island police uncovered the alleged operation after cloning devices were found at a local bank branch in Bristol in October 2023.

Burglary ring caught on camera planting stealing devices at self-checkout – $300,000 vanishes in seconds

“The scale, scope and brazen nature of these defendants’ scheme to steal unsuspecting consumers’ financial account information and use it to obtain money and property for themselves, as we allege in federal court, is staggering,” said U.S. Attorney Cunha.

All of the people involved in the case are in their early twenties, between the ages of 20 and 23.

Four of the group’s six members are Romanian citizens, while the last two are Irish and British citizens.

“The ATM and point-of-sale skimming equipment they used worked quickly and effectively to steal credit card information, allowing them to clone and illegally access unsuspecting victims’ credit cards, bank accounts, and other financial accounts,” said Michael J. Krol, Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) New England.

“HSI is a leader in illicit finance investigations and is committed to working with our partners in the public and private sectors to protect the integrity of our financial systems.”

All those believed to be involved in the theft have been prosecuted, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald R. Gendron is prosecuting the case.

“I commend the excellent work of the Homeland Security Investigations Division and our local law enforcement partners for their diligent and effective work to dismantle the gang of thieves and hold those responsible accountable in federal court,” Cuhna said.

While it can be difficult to detect card skimming devices in machines, there are ways to keep shoppers safe.

If you notice anything out of place while using your credit card reader or if the machine appears to have been tampered with, consider replacing the machine.

Card readers do not move easily on official devices and should not come loose when opened and closed.

If possible, try to use an ATM inside a bank branch rather than a gas station or a stand-alone ATM, as these are at higher risk from card skimmers.

If you suspect a copying device has been installed on a machine, notify the business manager immediately.