|Left to right: Osvaldo Bello Villanueva, Enrique Franco, and Abrahan Noa. [FCPD]|
A fraud investigator from an undisclosed bank contacted FCPD’s financial crimes section on March 8 to report several customer credit/debit cards had been compromised at a gas station in the 5600 block of Columbia Pike. Two skimming devices were subsequently located inside two of the gas pumps.
Detectives set up surveillance the following night near the gas station. Around 11 p.m., they observed a car with multiple people inside pull into the station’s parking lot and sit there for several minutes. The car eventually left the lot. Detectives, with the assistance of Arlington County Police, conducted a traffic stop in the area of South Walter Reed Drive and 14th Street and spoke to the driver and occupants.
Their investigation determined the suspects were downloading financial credit and debit card information from the installed skimming device via a Bluetooth device. Three men, all from Miami, Fla., were arrested and taken to the Adult Detention Center:
- Osvaldo Bello Villanueva, 40, was charged with one count of credit card forgery, two counts of credit card theft, and three counts of possession of credit card forgery devices.
- Enrique F. Franco, 76, was charged with one count of criminal possession of credit card forgery devices and three counts of credit card theft.
- Abrahan Noa, 47, was charged with three counts each of criminal possession of credit card forgery devices and credit card forgery and five counts of credit card theft.
Older skimmers attach to, or cover, a machine’s card reader, and an accessory device is usually hidden nearby. Loose fixtures, tape, or adhesives on a machine could draw attention to a problem. Newer devices can be placed inside, or wired to, a card reader, and criminals can use Bluetooth technology to obtain credit card information without being present at the location.
The FCPD offers these tips to help customers protect themselves:
• Inspect the machine; you may not be able to see the actual device, but look for pry marks, scratches, or signs of tampering.
• Use a credit card (versus a debit/ATM card) when possible. The devices can record PINs, and it may be more difficult to have personal bank funds reimbursed.
• When entering your PIN, use your hand to shield the keyboard. Be aware of strangers standing close to you or who offer to help you with “broken” machines.
• Regularly check your bank and credit card statements. If you notice anything fraudulent or questionable, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
• Monitor and report even small charges. Stolen financial information is often used for small, ordinary purchases, like gas or groceries.
• Try to use ATMs or machines in areas covered by security cameras.
• If you feel you’ve been a victim of financial crime in Fairfax County, you can report it online through the Financial Crimes Online Reporting system.