Composite image with background photo and overlay of Washington County Sheriff’s Office patrol vehicle | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News
ST. GEORGE – A Las Vegas couple have been arrested after MPs investigating an alleged card skimming report found the couple sitting in the backseat of a vehicle near Gunlock Road in Washington County on Wednesday morning.
Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies responded Wednesday to a reported fraud at one of Veyo’s gas stations involving a credit card skimmer that had been placed in a credit card reader at one of the pumps at gasoline, according to probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests.
A credit card skimmer is a device installed on a card reader that collects credit card numbers by reading the magnetic strip. This information can be used by thieves to make fraudulent purchases. The information can also be sold to other criminals and used to create fake credit cards using real credit information.
Gas stations have become prime real estate for credit card skimmers, and this type of fraud is on the rise across the country as scammers use advanced technology that makes devices harder to detect, and the stored information can be downloaded or sent wirelessly.
At the scene, according to the report, the declarant told MPs he found the skimming device on one of the gas pumps, similar to a device that was retrieved from another gas pump in the area. same gas station a week before. The appellant also allegedly provided photos captured by surveillance footage which showed a man wearing a bucket hat to hide his face as he was seen tampering with the same gas pump from which the manager retrieved the device skimming.
MPs also obtained footage of similar activities captured early Wednesday morning when the same suspect wearing a similarly styled hat of a different color was seen tampering with one of the gas pumps by removing the cover that protected the pump electronics.
During the investigation, MPs discovered that the cover was removed from the pump on Wednesday to allow the suspect to recover the device.
The appellant also reportedly told MPs that the man in the footage was not an employee and was not authorized to open any of the pumps.
Meanwhile, MPs scoured the area looking for the vehicle shown in surveillance footage, which was found stopped on the shoulder of Gunlock Road near KP 11.
Authorities say they approached the vehicle and were able to see open bottles of what appeared to be alcoholic beverage through the window and noticed a man and woman sitting in the back seat, a couple later identified as Luis Miguel Rodriguez, 32, and Kayli Nicole Fontana, 35, both residents of Las Vegas, Nevada.
During a search of the vehicle, MPs located a bag containing suspected methamphetamine that fell from the visor, along with several items of paraphernalia, the report said. Additionally, MPs recovered a hat matching the one the suspect saw wearing in gas station security footage.
Investigators also seized a number of electronic devices, including a laptop computer, several hard drives and cell phones that were found inside the vehicle.
The investigation is still ongoing as detectives continue to work to secure search warrants for the devices and to identify people who may have used their credit cards at the pump while the skimming device was installed. .
Exorbitant cost of credit card skimming
When it comes to credit card fraud, everyone pays the price as consumers and the businesses that serve them all suffer from this type of criminal activity – the cost of which can be staggering.
Credit card skimming costs financial institutions and consumers over $ 1 billion each year, according to the FBI.
Gas pumps are prime targets for card skimmers due to the high volume of transactions that occur on a daily basis. The increase is also due, in part, to new technologies and 3D printers that can create a skimmer that is almost indistinguishable from the real ones, and while most of these devices in the past were installed outside the pump, many are now installed indoors, making them even more difficult to detect.
Even with advances in credit card security including the implementation of a computer chip, the cards still have the same information encoded on the magnetic stripe and this data can still be stolen.
Retailers, large and small, are vulnerable. Even retail giant Costco Wholesale Corporation had a skimming incident this month, and the company has been tasked with alerting customers that their payment information may have been stolen through a credit card skimmer. while shopping at one of their stores, according to a report released by Security Affairs last week.
Costco found the card skimming device in one of its stores during a routine check by store staff. The company removed the device and alerted authorities to the violation, and Costco officials are now working with law enforcement on the investigation.
How to avoid getting scammed by crooks
When refueling, pay inside the gas station rather than at the pump, and always use indoor ATMs where possible, as they are more difficult for thieves to handle. Inspection of any card reader is also recommended.
Even wiggling the keyboard and checking to see if something is loose is a good idea. If anything is wrong, do not use the device. Instead, use a mobile payment app, like Apple Pay or Venmo, says IDX Solutions.
After Wednesday’s arrest, the two suspects were jailed in Washington County and formally charged the next day.
The two suspects face one count of third degree felony for obtaining information encoded on a financial transaction card and three misdemeanors – including one count each of possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia and an open container load.
Rodriguez also faces a third degree felony charge of possession of a counterfeit device and one count of criminal mischief, a misdemeanor. The two suspects first appeared in 5th District Court on Thursday and are expected to return to court next month.
Ed. Note: A new Utah law generally prohibits posting of arrest reservation photos until a conviction is obtained.
This report is based on statements from court records, the police or other stakeholders and may not contain all of the findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty by a court or as otherwise decided by a trier of fact.
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