Trio accused of stealing account numbers

Police say the men had likely attached bogus card-swiping devices to gas pumps and other sites.

October 06, 2010|By Veronica Rocha,
(Raul Roa/Staff…)

GLENDALE — Evidence of a fraudulent credit card operation led to the arrests Tuesday of three Tarzana men suspected of stealing tens of thousands of account numbers.

Michael Castro, 24, William Johnson, 32, and Benjamin Granados, 31, were arrested Sept. 23 on suspicion of identity theft after detectives found re-encoded credit cards and equipment used to create those cards inside their Tarzana apartment, Glendale Police Det. Patrick Magtoto said. Police also found two guns.

Prosecutors have not yet filed charges against the trio, said Shiara Dávila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney's office .

The men likely attached fraudulent credit card skimmers to gas pumps or other systems that cardholders use to scan their cards, Magtoto said. Credit-card skimmers can be attached to a gas pump for months and go unnoticed, he said.

"Anybody who swipes their card is still going to get processed, but it will be captured inside a chip, so potentially you are going to have tens of thousands of stolen accounts," Magtoto said.


The men also embossed gift cards with their names, he said.

Inside the men's apartment, police found a "classic credit-card factory," including a computer, an embossing machine, an encoding device, printers, credit cards and skimmers, Magtoto said.

The high-definition printer was likely used to print credit-card images onto blank cards, officials said.

The computer will undergo forensic analysis to determine how many accounts were stolen, he said.

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