Modified: October 1, 2018 12:30pm
The Erie County Bureau of Weights and Measures (“BWM”) recently aided local and federal law enforcement agencies in the detection and arrest of an individual who had installed “skimming” devices to steal credit card information from unsuspecting customers at Erie County gas stations. Five such devices were detected around the county within a two-day period in mid-July, and BWM worked closely with the Town of Amherst Police Department and agents from the U.S. Secret Service to facilitate an arrest shortly after the devices were discovered. Giraldo Cardenas of Homestead, Florida was arrested for the crime, admitting to law enforcement that he had installed credit card skimmers at gas pumps in Amherst, Lancaster and the Town of Tonawanda. He faces up to seven years in prison for the offense.
“As thieves continue to exploit new, high-tech ways to scam consumers it is more important than ever to have the Bureau of Weights and Measures on the job to safeguard consumers’ information and ensure the security of transactions,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “I thank the Bureau for their recent work in uncovering skimmer theft and for the vigilant work they are doing every day to protect our residents.”
Criminals using skimming devices are able to capture stolen credit card data through a Bluetooth or even cell phone connection and are able to use that information to produce a “duplicate” credit card while they sit nearby in their vehicle, which can then be used at local establishments within minutes. Fraudulent skimmer installation has become a nationwide problem, evidenced recently in Florida as the FBI arrested 77 people in Miami in June 2018 connected to skimmers found in New York State.
The BWM is mandated to seal all devices (such as gas pumps) in the county to protect against any recalibrations or adjustments without departmental notification. The Bureau’s inspection of these devices includes checking each meter for accuracy, safety, labeling, and correct price signs along with checking each pump for illegal credit card skimming devices. Until recently, the search for skimmers involved actually opening up a pump and doing a visual check, but now Erie County has purchased a “Blue Sleuth” Skimmer detector which allows Weights and Measures officials to perform a scan of a gas station within minutes, removing the need to open each cabinet individually for visual inspection and saving hundreds of man hours of work annually.
“While the BlueSleuth skimmer scanner is very useful at gas stations, it also able to detect skimmers at retail stores,” said BWM Director Paula Trimper. “Along with vigilance in the search for criminal activity, the Bureau is also charged with ensuring that scanners at retail establishments are performing properly and consumers are getting what they pay for and are not overcharged. Our Examiners perform both Scanner Accuracy and Item Pricing inspections to check the retail establishments for compliance with the law.”
The BWM performs thousands of package checks annually, ensuring proper weight and labeling standards are adhered to, along with inspecting devices to ensure adherence to specific tolerances set forth by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) and the NYS Bureau of Weights and Measures. Devices tested include computing retail scales, such as those found in supermarkets, delis, farm markets, hardware stores, bakeries, candy stores and any site where commodities are sold by weight. BWM also inspects scales used in processing, warehousing and manufacturing at facilities such as quarries, scrap yards, meat packing plants, and garbage transfer stations. The Bureau also inspects all pharmacy scales to ensure accuracy in compounding prescriptions as mandated by the NYS Board of Regents.
For more information:
On the Erie County Bureau of Weights and Measures, click here .
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