Three arrested for credit card fraud

January 19, 2011

San Luis Obispo Police arrested three people who allegedly stole $58,000 from at least 100 people by strategically placing small cameras and card readers at several county banks.

For several months, police have been investigating  local credit card skimming operations.

On January 13, a Chase Bank investigator told police he had captured video images of skimmers at the Chase Bank on Madonna Road. A few days later, another Chase Bank machine was compromised on El Camino Real in Atascadero.

Police tracked the suspects to a local motel where they found skimmer devices, cloned credit cards and $20,000 in cash.

Police arrested Santiago Alcantar, 35, of Bell Gardens; Genea M. Antoine, 37, of Valencia; and Anthony P. Garcia, 28, of Bassett on suspicion of burglary, conspiracy, possession of skimmer equipment and possession of fraudulent credit card numbers. They were booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail.

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In response to the questions below:

It is very easy to attach a skimmer undetected to many ATMs, without needing access to the inside of the machine. Fake panels containing a camera are easy to attach to the top of the ATM, or a camera can be hidden inside an envelope holder. Fake PIN pads can be overlaid over the real one. And a realistic looking attachment can be put over the card reader to skim your PIN. Do a google search for card skimmer videos, there are plenty showing how easy this scam can be to conceal.

Thi is why Chase ATMs and others have flashing lights on the card reader and it has a distinctive shape – making it hard to duplicate with a fake attachment. If you don’t see the flashing light or the ATM looks different in any way, don’t use it! Also, try to cover your hands when you enter the pin, it protects you against hidden cameras as well as people watching.

Thanks sloslo. Hard to believe the atm community still hasn’t been able to do anything about this. If the thieves use you card to withdraw money from your bank account, are you responsible for the loss?

How do they get inside these atm machines to install the skimmers? Are they not locked or do they all have the same key? Does anybody know?

It is attached externally, looks like normal plastic trim surrounding the card slot, built in bluetooth transmits card number , camera transmits video for the pin.

Thanks zaphod. If I understand correctly, if you shield the pin pad as you type in your pin that might keep them from being able to use your card?

How did they get the strategically placed cameras undetected by bank employees or security systems?

They are organized.

I agree 100%. The question is, who are they working for?

Maybe they case the bank for a few days to see when the bank employees are coming out to empty the ATM? Then they go through the bank drive-thru or walk up to the ATM & quickly install the skimmers/cameras? I’ve heard of small ATM’s at restaurants or gas stations having skimmers attached to them but never at an actual bank location. Wow–what brazen criminals!

How often do you think bank employees check the video camera tapes from the ATM? Probably never, unless there is a theft, robbery, or fraud reported at a certain time. There are just too many hours of tape to look at and someone can place a skimmer so quickly and covertly, it would be hard to notice unless you were carefully watching the video and knew what to look for.

Also, while a few ATMs have specialized detectors to alarm if a skimmer is placed over the card slot, most do not. The design of such a sensor is not trivial, since it has to not false alarm by the card being inserted and by the users hand.