The next time you fill up at your favorite gasoline station, you might want to pay with cash.
Card skimming devices have arrived in Hawaii.
An Oahu grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging three men from California with identity theft and credit card fraud for using information they "skimmed" from gasoline pumps.
According to the indictment, Akop Tadevosovich Changryan, Karapet Kalantryan and Araik Davtyan installed skimming devices at four Aloha Island Mini Mart gas stations on Oahu last September, returned to California with the account data the devices recorded and made counterfeit credit and debit cards using the information.
They then stole more than $150,000 from the six Hawaii financial institutions of the 156 account holders who used the compromised pumps.
SKIMMING devices, when attached to or installed in automated teller machines or pay-at-the-pump machines, record credit and debit card information without interfering with the transaction. People find out they’ve been victimized only after they see their card statements. And businesses where the devices are installed are unaware that someone is stealing information from their customers.
The indictment said the defendants and an accomplice installed and retrieved the devices between Sept. 9 and 24.
To install the devices, the defendants rented from United Truck Rental in Honolulu a van equipped with side panel doors on both sides of the vehicle. They then parked the vehicle next to the gasoline pumps.
As the accomplice and other defendants served as lookouts, created distractions and blocked views to the front of the pumps, Changryan used a "master key" to open the pumps’ front panels and attached skimming devices to their internal hardware components, the indictment said. The vehicle’s panel doors when opened helped conceal Changryan’s activities.
The defendants returned later and used the same techniques to retrieve the devices.
Police in California said Changryan, 27, did the same thing in Laguna Beach last summer. They arrested him at his home in Glendale in January and charged him with using unauthorized credit card information to purchase items in Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, Arizona and New Mexico.
Last summer police departments in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Washington and California reported investigating cases of skimming devices at gasoline pumps. And security alerts went out in Florida and Arizona.