Police: Tech-savvy thieves putting more credit card users at risk

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police say credit card skimming is not new, but new technology is making it easier for crooks to do it, putting more unsuspecting customers at risk.

Card readers used to be bulky and had to be placed over existing card readers on gas pumps or ATM's, but those devices are getting smaller and more mobile. Thieves can discreetly have one in their pocket and can swipe a card when the owner looks away.

Honolulu Police Deputy Chief John McCarthy says they are seeing more instances of skimming at places like restaurants, where the credit card is physically taken from the customer.

"You normally place your card in a tray or the envelop. They take it, they charge it and comeback. Well, when that credit card leaves your sight, it gives them the opportunity to use a device to read everything on that credit card and clone or sell that information later."

McCarthy says many restaurants now have the registers in the main dining hall, and suggests customers keep an eye on the card to ensure it is only swiped at the register.

Randy Tuley, 28, of Kaimuki was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on charges of criminal conspiracy to commit identity theft and possession of confidential information.

Honolulu prosecutors say Tuley was a server at a Moilili restaurant in late 2016, when he allegedly skimmed customer credit cards.

He is accused of giving the information from the card reader to Shaun Hart, who police say, made duplicate cards and spent almost $50,000 using those cards.

Hart, 25, was also indicted Wednesday for theft, identity theft, conspiracy to commit identity theft and possession of confidential information.

Hart has been out on bond awaiting trial for federal drug charges.

Multiple sources tell Hawaii News Now that Hart was told about the new indictment Wednesday and within hours, cut off his ankle monitor and is now a fugitive.

Tuley was arrested Thursday.

Experts say it's very difficult to know if your card was swiped by a thief's card reader, because people often don't see the questionable charges until they get their monthly bill.

"That's where skimming gives bad guys the advantage," says McCarthy, "Unless you go online and check all the time, you don't know."

McCarthy suggest checking credit card statements online at least once a week.

Jeff Marshall, a security investigator for Bank of Hawaii, says that can not only prevent future transactions using the duplicate card, it can also help the banks find a thief.

"The way we tend to identify things, skimming devices or a skimming scam, is a lot of customers are disputing transactions and we can see a common point of purchase, all happening at a location."

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