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4 accused of attaching fake card reader on Georgia Bank & Trust ATM

Group accused of attaching fake card reader

Posted: December 16, 2015 - 12:16am
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V. Margel  Valerie Rowell
Valerie Rowell
V. Margel

Four California siblings were recently arrested for installing a card skimmer on a local ATM.

Ionut Margel, 21, Venus Madalin Margel, 19, Vanesa Margel, 17, and their 13-year-old brother, all of Greenfield, Calif., were charged on Saturday with criminal possession of a financial transaction card forgery device. Venus Margel also faces a charge of driving without a license.

Columbia County sheriff’s Maj. Steve Morris sent out a notice to the public last week warning the public of an organized group traveling across the country placing card readers, skimmers, on ATM.

The skimmers are put directly over the card slots and capture all the card’s data form the magnetic strip without interfering with the function of the ATM, according to Morris.

If a skimmer is on an ATM, Morris said, it will come off if the cover if pulled firmly.

A 31-year-old Grovetown woman heard the warning and was cautious Saturday morning when she approached the ATM machine at Georgia Bank and Trust at 4109 Columbia Road in Martinez. She went to the machine at about 7:30 a.m. to deposit money, according to a sheriff’s office incident report.

The woman told deputies she pulled on the card reader to make sure it wasn’t a skimmer. It didn’t move, so went continued with her transaction. As she retrieved her card, the woman said the cover of the card reader fell off, according to the report.

She immediately called authorities, who determined the device was a card skimmer. Authorities then set up surveillance at the bank. The four were detailed and questioned after they were seen acting suspiciously at the bank, according to sheriff’s Capt. Butch Askew.

The four claim to be siblings, but Askew said the parents of the 13-year-old have been contacted in North Carolina. They were found to have numerous forms of identification, so the sheriff’s office is working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other agencies to determine their true identities, according to Askew.

The three oldest are being held in the Columbia County Detention Center without bond, according to jail records.

Askew encouraged residents to check accounts for suspicious activity and be aware of the possibility of skimming devices. Suspicious activity should be reported to the sheriff’s office at (7060 541-2800.

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