Local News

Two charged in gas-pump skimming case

Posted September 29, 2009 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated September 29, 2009 8:24 p.m. EDT

— Two Cary men face more than three dozen charges in connection with an alleged skimming operation at gas stations in Raleigh and Cary.

Nghi Huu Bui, 35, of 107 Otter Drive, and Loc Huu Bui, 37, of 102 Woodgen Drive, were arrested Friday after, authorities said, they attached electronic devices called skimmers to the inside of gas pumps in Raleigh to capture and store bank card and personal identification numbers.

Each face 10 counts each of financial card theft with a scanning device and 10 counts of financial card fraud.

According to search warrants returned Tuesday, Raleigh police received multiple reports of unauthorized ATM withdrawals.

Investigators were able to link the cards to purchases at several Raleigh gas stations, including ones at 2701 S. Saunders St., 4100 New Hope Road and an Exxon station at 2201 W. Millbrook Road, where investigators found five skimmers on pumps.

Each of the skimmers were somehow completely inside the gas pumps, Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

"People have no way of knowing, no matter how vigilant they are at the time they use the card that their information is being skimmed."

He urged customers who have purchased gas with credit or debit cards to pay careful attention to their bank activity and credit card statements and report any irregularities or suspicions to police.

It's unclear how far back the alleged criminal activity goes, Sughrue said, but "we know that it has been fairly recent activity. Investigators are still accumulating information and still locating victims."

Surveillance cameras at local ATMs led police to the suspects, according to the warrants.

Investigators seized a number of items from the homes of the suspects, including a Nikon camera, camera lens, blank cards with magnetic strips, gift cards, credit cards and "a list of names," although it doesn't specify what the list is.

Both men were in the Wake County jail Tuesday under a $750,000 bonds.

Local authorities have reported numerous cases of skimming in recent months at both ATMs and gas stations. In such cases, data captured, combined with hidden-camera video of PIN entry, is used to create new, fake cards to withdraw cash and make purchases.

Local law enforcement officials advise ATM users of the following tips:

  • Closely examine ATM card slots to make sure nothing appears to be attached to the front of them.
  • Do not use an ATM if the card reader appears to be added on, to fit poorly or to be loose.
  • Avoid device instructions that have messages, such as "Swipe Here First" or “Use This Machine Only.”
  • If something does not look right, use another ATM.
  • Always cover the ATM keypad while entering a PIN, in case a hidden camera is nearby.
  • Never accept help from anyone at an ATM machine.
  • Immediately call the customer service number on an ATM if a machine does not return a card, appears suspicious or does not function properly.
  • Pay attention to bank statements and account activity.