CLINTON, MS (WLBT) - Clinton police have broken open a multi-state and international credit card skimming operation thanks to the heads up work by a dispatcher.
Both branches of the Regions Bank in Clinton found cloned debit cards locked in their ATMs on December 18.
Bank employees called police and the cards were confiscated. The cards were standard retail establishment gift cards that had been re-encoded with cardholder victims’ information.
The cardholder victims’ were not of the Clinton area. Numerous cloned cards had been used in the metro areas totaling an approximate $13,060. Through the investigation, it has been determined that most of the victims of this crime are located in the Memphis, TN area.
“This was an easy case to solve for the Clinton Police Department, whereas this is typically a hard crime to solve thanks to the heads up work by a Clinton P.D. dispatcher,” said Detective Sergeant Nick Sprowles.
A Clinton police dispatcher located a news article out of Nashville, Tennessee highlighting three suspects being arrested in Cheatham County, Tennessee on a traffic stop. These three suspects had eight credit/debit card skimming devices, 159 gift cards, other computer equipment, and a large sum of U.S. currency.
It is believed that much of the funds from the illegal operation have been transferred internationally.
Clinton police detectives recognized one of the three men in the news article as the man caught on Regions Bank ATM video surveillance using the cloned debit cards.
With information from the investigators at the Cheatham County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton police detectives are learning that this is an extremely widespread organization, covering multiple jurisdictions.
Throughout the holiday season and as recently as Friday, detectives have patrolled the City of Clinton and inspected ATM machines and gas pumps to ensure that consumers are protected. Most, not all, gas pumps in the City of Clinton have been updated since the 2016 Skimmer case. The new gas pumps have added security and aren’t as easy to hack.
With this recent group, the skimming device would install on top of the existing key pad of an ATM machine. This would record the card holders’ pin numbers, as well as the data on the magnetic stripe of the card.
Clinton detectives advise residents to be aware of the machines they are using for transactions.
“If the machine or gas pump appears to have been tampered with, just don’t use it. Let the store manager know and proceed to use different methods of payment,” Sprowles added. “Remember to check statements for any fraudulent activity.”
The Clinton Police Department has issued an felony arrest warrant for 31-year-old George Zica. Zica is awaiting extradition to Clinton and a bond has not yet been set.
This is a developing story. We will update this as more information becomes available.