A special police team known as REACT arrested 6 people in connected to a ring of alleged credit card thieves, including a mother and her adult son and daughter.
In 2012, The NBC Investigative Unit reported how credit card thieves can steal financial information using Bluetooth enabled "skimming" devices implanted in gas station pumps all over the Bay Area. Investigators say the report raised awareness among gas station owners to change their locks and watch for compromised pumps.
"The break in the case," said Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery, "happened when a gas station owner [in the South Bay] contacted the task force to let them know they found a skimmer on their pump."
A two-year investigation led to felony ID theft charges and six arrests in a Southern California-based identity theft organization. The group was allegedly installing skimmers and creating new counterfeit credit cards with the information.
Investigators says the group used the cards to purchase more than $500,000 of merchandise--mostly Apple products and high-end purses--which can be easily resold for cash. Deputy District Attorney Tom Flattery says the operation was sophisticated:
"When they go into the store to use a fake card and the clerk asks to see ID, they have an ID that matches the card," said Flattery. "And these look like the real thing; they do."
REACT began its investigation in 2012 when two suspects were taken in by the Gilroy Police Department, allegedly buying Rolex watches with counterfeit credit cards. They were identified as having made these fake credit cards with information extracted from local gas pumps. In December 2013, the investigators found two crews who bought over $80,000 in merchandise with counterfeit cards in Sunnyvale.