On August 5, 2017, the Sheriff’s Department Hi-Tech Task Force arrested Luis Jose Ruiz-Gainza, 43, and Ricardo Gabriele-Plage, 36, of Venezuela for placing ATM skimming devices on several bank ATM machines in the region.
Sheriff’s detectives were notified in April of 2017 of several people who were victims of identity theft, and also had money withdrawn from their bank accounts. The investigation lead to the discovery of skimming devices (photo attached) located at several bank ATM machines in the region. A high definition camera (photo attached) was also placed above the key pad of the ATM underneath a cover or fascia (photo attached), which recorded customers entering their PIN numbers. The fascia is usually painted a similar color as the ATM. The stolen account numbers and PIN codes were then used to unlawfully withdraw funds from the victims’ accounts.
Detectives believe the suspects are part of a larger organized crime group comprised of mainly Venezuelan nationals, who are traveling to the United States to place these devices on ATM machines. These suspects entered the United States legally with passports via Mexico. The crimes that occurred in April of 2017 were over a two to three day period, approximately 450 debit/credit cards were compromised, and approximately $20,000 of withdrawn funds from victims.
Detectives recommend customers sign up for activity notifications with their banks and credit cards so they can better track any unauthorized activity. Contact your banking institution immediately if you feel there is any suspicious activity on your account, and then fill out an affidavit of fraud with the banking institution. You should also submit an online report so it can be routed to detectives. You can make an online report by going to the following webpage https://www.sacsheriff.com/pages/services/reportcrimeinfo.aspx.
Sergeant Tony Turnbull