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California family accused of identity theft in gas pump scheme

A mother and son have been accused of using illegal devices to retrieve credit card information from gas stations in San Jose. The California relatives, aged 53 and 33, reportedly used "skimming' machines" to steal the information from pumps throughout the Bay Area. They are both facing charges of felony identity theft, according to news reports. The woman's daughter, age 35, has also been charged in the case. Three other people are also accused of involvement in the alleged theft.

The offenders allegedly used gas station keys to open pumps and install the skimming equipment. Those devices captured credit and debit card information from unsuspecting customers. Later, the group would return to the pumps and open them again to recover the skimming device and the financial data. The crews would allegedly either open the pumps under the cover of darkness or block the pump with a van so the attendant could not see what was happening.

Authorities report that the group purchased a significant amount of sophisticated technology to steal credit card information from the gas pumps. That equipment supposedly cost more than a half-million dollars. Still, that amount pales in comparison to the financial benefit that likely came from perpetrating the identity theft, according to investigators.

After obtaining the card numbers, the electronic information would be transferred onto plastic cards. Those cards were used to make scores of illegal purchases. Authorities in the area say that the group's falsified credit cards and driver's licenses were difficult to detect. Even the driver's licenses included falsified holograms.

Criminal defendants who are facing far-reaching consequences for identity theft, forgery and theft charges may benefit from the assistance of a California attorney. These professionals may provide additional information about legal rights and options for defendants. An attorney may provide assistance so that a defendant can make educated decisions about a criminal proceeding.

Source: Dixon Patch, "Family Charged in Theft of Credit Card Information from Dozens of Gas Pumps in Bay Area" Michelle Mowad, Feb. 22, 2014

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