Police investigating instances of credit card skimming at Carson businesses
November 15, 2006
At least 50 Carson City residents have had their credit card information stolen by employees of local businesses, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
“We’ve had a huge amount of fraudulent activities from the duplication of credit card information,” said Carson City Sheriff’s Detective Bob Motamenpour. “Credit card, or bank and debit card information from Carson City has been used in Mexico, China, India, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Russia and unfortunately, when we have cards being used in those countries, we are not able to investigate.”
Investigators believe the “skimming” is being done by employees of local businesses who are selling the credit card information to international outfits that produce counterfeit cards.
Widespread in Europe, skimming is when an employee of a legitimate business, such as a restaurant, gas station or bar, takes a customer’s credit card and either writes down the number or scans it through a pocket-sized device that downloads all the information needed to make a counterfeit card. The information is then passed on to create counterfeit cards, which are sold on the black market.
In one such case in Carson City, thieves were able to clean out the victim’s checking account and savings account when the overdraft protection kicked in.
Motamenpour said at least two Carson City gas stations and a restaurant have been identified as the legitimate businesses in which some skimmers were employed, but determining who the crooked employee is proves nearly impossible.
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Fortunately, he said, Carson City victims are not responsible for a bill rung up in Russia or elsewhere if the fraud is reported as soon as the victim is aware.
“Local businesses and the banks will take the hit on that,” he said.
Bob Motamenpour suggests the following tips when using your credit or bank cards:
• Don’t let your card out of your sight. If you are going to use it to pay for a meal or merchandise, take it to the register yourself and carefully watch the cashier. Motamenpour said the palm readers through which the cards are run can be as small as a credit card and easily fit into a pocket.
• Don’t ever leave your card at the counter of a gas station. If you want to fill up your tank, stop and get the cash first.
• Research the protection plans offered by your banking institutions. It may be possible to put a stop to all overseas transactions, or limit the number of times in a day in which the card can be used. If you wish to exceed your limit, you can easily contact your bank and verify with them your identity.
• Carefully review your bank statements and immediately report any fraudulent activity.
Motamenpour said if anyone has fallen victim to such a scam, call the detective division at 887-2020 ext. 1400.
•Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.