Lucky stores ID theft was sophisticated

December 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
The Secret Service is now leading the investigation into the skimming devices found on the self-checkout stations in 23 Bay Area Lucky supermarkets. Dozens of customers have already reported someone's been tapping into their bank accounts. The scam was so sophisticated, police say there was no way customers could've known.

Skimming devices are a high tech cat and mouse game between cops and cyber-crooks. They're getting smaller and more sophisticated all the time. The parts are easy to buy online, but International Spy Shop Owner owner Jason Woodside says it's all about how criminals hide them.

"To make it smaller they would take a credit card reader, take the components out and put it into a molding that they would use to put onto the outside of the ATM machine," Woodside said.

The finished card skimmers are tiny and hard to spot. To steal your pin number, some thieves build elaborate fake keypads, but others simply use a video camera. Hidden in a box of brochures, a camera points down at the keypad and transmits video of your secret code to the crooks, who record it.

Some cameras use a pinhole lens and are even harder to spot. ABC News obtained video confiscated from an actual criminal's camera. Police caught the suspect installing the camera in a piece of fake trim glued to the machine.

But in the 24 Lucky supermarkets where customers' account numbers were stolen criminals went one step further -- they hid devices inside the machines.

"A couple months prior there were readers stolen from the Lucky stores," San Francisco Police Inspector Marty Dito said.

Dito says he thinks crooks modified the stolen card readers, then brought them back to the store and quietly switched them out.

A Lucky spokesperson says the grocery chain doesn't know how crooks managed to modify its self-checkout stations without being seen. As they investigate, she says they're still advising customers to call their banks and cancel their cards.

Here is a list of the stores:

  • 815 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda
  • 6843 Mission St., Daly City
  • 1000 El Cerrito Plaza, El Cerrito
  • 5000 Mowry Ave., Fremont
  • 35820 Fremont Blvd., Fremont
  • 919 Edgewater Blvd., Foster City
  • 25151 Santa Clara St., Hayward
  • 45 Murchison Drive, Millbrae
  • 1350 S Park Victoria Dr., Milpitas
  • 715 E El Camino Real, Mountain View
  • 1761 Grant Ave., Novato
  • 939 Lakeville Highway, Petaluma
  • 1530 Fitzgerald Drive, Pinole
  • 200 Woodside Plaza, Redwood City
  • 1133 Old County Rd., San Carlos
  • 234 Saratoga Ave., Santa Clara
  • 5510 Monterey Highway, San Jose
  • 200 El Paseo De Saratoga, San Jose
  • 844 Blossom Hill Rd., San Jose
  • 3270 South White Rd., San Jose
  • 1515 Sloat Blvd., San Francisco
  • 1300 Fairmont Drive, San Leandro
  • 484 N Mathilda Ave., Sunnyvale
  • 32300 Dyer St., Union City

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