Criminals Place Fake Card Skimmers at Self-Checkouts to Steal Debit Funds

( – According to California law enforcement officials, members of the Romanian mob restarted an old debit card scam. This scam uses card skimmers to steal a customer’s debit card information for future use.

Prosecutors said the Romanian mob installed the skimmers on self-checkout machines within various grocery stores, gas stations, and mainstream retail businesses. Authorities also claimed that some homeless people near retail stores are likely involved in the scam and use Bluetooth devices to control the skimmers from a nearby location.

Among the stores targeted by the Romanian mob are massive retail chains, including Dollar General, Target, and Walmart. Scammers install debit card skimmers relatively quickly, using a process that takes seconds. The scammers model the debit card skimmers after popular debit card readers, including those produced by Verifone, which sells card readers to retailers throughout the United States. After a customer attempts to check out, the skimmer stores the user’s card information while the transaction continues on the actual self-checkout machine. Although the skimmers look identical to real debit card readers, police claim that pulling on card readers could reveal if a scammer installed a skimmer on the machine.

Although California’s law enforcement claims that the Romanian mob is the primary group responsible for the debit card skimmers, other international criminal organizations, including Mexican drug cartels, are performing similar scams. Cartels reportedly target popular tourism locations to install debit card skimmers, stealing money from people traveling abroad. Other European criminal organizations also commit similar scams, resulting in foreign officials arresting dozens of suspected scammers involved with the Romanian mob.

United States law enforcement recently increased efforts to prevent scams like the debit card skimmer operation, with several dozen suspects facing identity theft and credit card fraud charges. The scammers reportedly used the card skimmers to steal EBT card information along with debit card info, resulting in EBT card users losing their allocated monthly budget dedicated to food products. The accused scammers allegedly stole more than $9 million over the past few months, but authorities estimate the total could be higher depending on how many skimmers remain undetected.

According to California’s law enforcement officials, the Romanian mob remains the primary credit card scamming organization in the United States. Prosecutors claim that thousands of people connected to the Romanian mob’s international criminal enterprise have entered the country over the past few years. The Romanian mob reportedly focuses on the West Coast, particularly California’s cities, to steal money from American citizens.

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