Thursday, July 12, 2012
7 News Features: Guard Your Card
Your credit card can be stolen at a restaurant or store and still be in your pocket when you leave. How? It's easy, and tonight, Patrick Fraser says it's why police are telling you to make sure you Guard Your Card.
WSVN -- If you live near Brickell, you know it's busy day and night.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "Brickell is just a good place to work, live and play."
But Michael Sheldon can't play as much as he would like. That working for a living interferes with it.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "I do work 8 to 6, sometimes 7 o'clock at times at night. At times, I do a lot of traveling."
But his credit card recently took a nice vacation with four people to Key West.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "Pisses me off, pisses me off. Someone else is getting away with using the money that someone else has earned."
Michael's credit card was still in his pocket, but police say this fellow was videotaped in key west using a duplicate of michael's card ...
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "My credit card number was stolen in the Brickell neighborhood."
Michael believes the numbers from his credit card were probably stolen at one of the Brickell restaurants he goes to, and he had no idea when it happened.
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "Basically, this is your basic credit-card-making equipment, equipment used to make counterfeit credit cards."
Detective Marcos Rodriguez is not involved in Michael's stolen credit card case. He works in Miami-Dade's Economic Crimes unit.
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "Street name is 'skimmer.'"
Rodriguez says your credit card number can be swiped by a waiter or waitress using what's called a 'skimmer.'
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "Usually, waiters carry them on aprons, anywhere where they can conceal it."
The waiter or waitress swipes your card when they take it to charge you for the meal, and the information is copied from your credit card's magnetic strip.
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "Once the card is swiped, all the information is now in here."
You, sitting at the table, have no idea.
The crooks then transfer the information from this skimmer to a computer, where it's loaded into a machine like this to create a new credit card with your numbers and someone else's name.
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "And it's as easy as highlighting and playing with the program, swiping it, and now the victim's credit card information is now contained in the magnetic strip of this credit card. So basically, you have a credit card, you can go shopping anywhere, anywhere you like."
This fellow is accused of using Michael's information to pay for his friends to go to the Keys with him.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "He looks very flashy to me. It looks like he has designer jeans, a nice fitted shirt, a gold watch."
And he is suspected of using Michael's credit card number on a $4,383 spending spree: $700 for a couple of rooms at a Courtyard by Marriott; the card was used to buy $1,945 worth of clothes at this store; $172 for a boat ride for the four of them; and after working up an appetite, the accused bought his friends lunch for $91 with the card, but apparently slipped up when he signed his own name to the tab.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "When I first saw him, once again, it just pissed me off. I just wished everything possible that someone would recognize him and he could be arrested."
Police have now identified the suspect as Geybert Garcia, who has a criminal history that includes current charges of dealing in stolen property.
He had a court hearing for that case. We showed up; Geybert Garcia did not.
Monroe County has now issued a warrant for Garcia's arrest for several different charges, including passing a counterfeited or falsely-made credit card.
According to law enforcement, it's a very lucrative business.
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "It's easy, extremely easy."
Patrick Fraser: "Easy, because all this equipment for swiping and creating new credit cards can be bought on the Internet or in stores. It's sold there, because the equipment is used by businesses for legitimate reasons. What crooks do with it makes it illegal. So can they be stopped? No. Slowed down? Yes."
Detective Marcos Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Police: "Stand up, pay yourself at the register, and at no time give your credit card to anybody. Keep control of your credit card or debit card at all times."
Don't let a clerk at a store walk away with your card. Don't let a waiter take you card out of your sight.
Michael didn't see someone copy his numbers, but he wants to see the people responsible in jail.
Michael Sheldon, Credit Card Skimmed: "I take it personally. I just take it personally, and especially the fact that I can see a video and see this person in the video and I know that's the one who stole the number bothers me."
Bothers him, because Michael works hard. He can't take time for vacations, but this guy apparently has the time, and allegedly used Michael's credit card number to treat all his friends to a nice little trip.