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US: Police bust huge credit card skimming operation in Sacramento, California


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Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department photo

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KCRA) — A large credit card skimming operation was busted in Sacramento, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.

Deputies said the men involved targeted victims up and down the West Coast.

“We believe that they’d been active since at least 2018, from Seattle potentially down to Arizona,” Sgt. Shaun Hampton said.

Vlad Chitas, Laurentiu Andrecia, Sandor Csaba and Lucian Lazar were arrested on Thursday. Investigators believe the men had been running an ATM skimming operation since December.

“We just scratched the surface last night,” Hampton said. “We believe they were going to be here for quite some time.”

Hampton said the suspects install a camera in an ATM that gives them a view of the pin pad.

“It’s a small pinhole camera,” Hampton said. “It’s very hard to detect, unless you know what you’re looking for.”

After installing the camera, one of the suspects comes back to add the skimming device.

“They were basically setting up shop here in Sacramento to do this operation,” Hampton said.

Hampton said at least 40 people in the Sacramento have had their credit card information stolen. Investigators expect to find more victims.

“We know they’ve at least traveled through several states here on the West Coast,” Hampton said. “We’re looking to see if they’ve victimized any more folks in other communities.”

Deputies said they found skimming devices inside ATMs in Sacramento, Folsom and Reno.

During the investigation, they identified one suspect and got a warrant to search his apartment, where they found approximately 20 ATM skimming devices, numerous recording devices designed to be installed at ATMs, re-encoded debit cards and other equipment.

Hampton said investigators are working with federal partners to determine how far the operations expands.

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