Fairfax Co. police catch 3 accused gas station skimmers in the act

WASHINGTON — Three Florida men have been charged with credit card theft after Fairfax County police say they were caught downloading credit card information from skimming devices at a Falls Church, Virginia, gas station.

In a March 17 news release, police identified the men as Osvaldo Bello Villanueva, 40, Enrique F. Franco, 76, and Abrahan Noa, 47, all of Miami. The men also were charged with possession of credit card forgery devices.

Police said they were tipped off on March 8 by an area bank that several customers’ credit and debit cards had been compromised at the gas station in the 5600 block of Columbia Pike.

Police said they discovered two skimming devices located inside two of the station’s gas pumps. The next night, police set up surveillance and said they observed car with the three men inside pulled into the station’s parking lot and sat there for several minutes. Police said the three men were downloading the credit card information from the skimmers via Bluetooth.

The Fairfax County police financial crimes division offered these tips for protecting yourself from skimmers:

  • Inspect the machine. You may not be able to see the actual device, but look for pry marks, scratches or signs of tampering.
  • Use your credit card (versus a debit/ATM card) when possible. Your PIN can be recorded and it may be more difficult to have personal bank funds reimbursed.
  • Protect your PIN. Use your hand to shield anyone nearby from observing your entry. Be aware of strangers standing close to you or who offer to help you with “broken” machines.
  • Regularly check your bank and card statements for discrepant charges. 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, such as 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 (FiCOR) system.
Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined WTOP.com as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at Nextgov.com, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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