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Debit-card scams tied to gas pumps
MADISON, Wis. (12/19/07)--A rash of recent debit-card scams, originating at gas pumps, have been occurring in several areas of the U.S. Many of the victims are members of credit unions. In El Monte, Calif., 70 people were victimized as of Saturday, according to police. All of the victims used debit cards at an ARCO gas station to purchase gas (San Gabriel Valley Tribune Dec. 15). Several victims are members of El Monte-based Vons Employees FCU and El Monte City Employees CU. Although no illegal devices were found at the gas station, investigators believe that an advanced computer device was used to capture information from debit-card electronic stripes and personal identification numbers (PINs). The gas station owner is not a suspect, police said. The identity thieves used the information to make cash withdrawals, varying from $400 to $1,500, from locations in Palms Springs, Calif., and New York, and from 7-Eleven stores in Las Vegas, police said. In Houston, Harris County Sheriff’s office investigators are tracking three men who stole debit-card PINs at the gas pump, then used the numbers to manufacture counterfeit cards and steal more than $100,000 from area ATMs. Roughly 500 accounts were breached, including those of several members at San Antonio CU. The thieves withdrew between $2,000 and $3,000 at each ATM, the sheriff’s office said. In Menomonie, Wis., city police started receiving several reports Nov. 19 of fraudulent charges on residents’ debit cards. The fraudulent charges are occurring in Florida--mainly at gas stations, according to police reports. The victims’ debit cards are being swiped even though they have the cards in their possession. This likely means that a copy of the cards has been made and used, police said (Dunn County News Dec. 18). So far, more than 20 local victims, 60 locations and 120 purchases have been affected. Each purchase made totaled about $70, according to Inspector Dave Pellett of the Menomonie Police Department.
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