Local News

Police search computers of two alleged 'skimmers'

Posted October 5, 2009 6:22 p.m. EDT

— Raleigh police searched the computers of two men alleged to be involved in "skimming" credit card data from points of purchase and stealing credit card numbers.

Mohamad Mustafa Derbas, 23, of 10233 Carter St. in Wake Forest, and Ahmad Hasan Odeh, 23, of 4113 Old Brick Court in Raleigh, are charged with conspiracy to obtain property by false pretense, conspiracy to commit felony larceny and possession of transaction card forgery devices.

According to search warrants made public Monday, police found two cell phones, a laptop and a skimmer device in Derbas' possession. Police searched the electronics for evidence relating to the theft, production, possession and forgery of financial transaction cards, the warrant said.

They also searched a computer at Odeh's home believed to have been used in the operation.

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.