Sunday, June 21, 2009

Russian or Armenian Mob Used 'Model Employee' Con at Southern California Arco

Paul Teeter writes on The L.A. Weekly:

An organized-crime ring that police believe is Russian or Armenian targeted a high-volume Redondo Beach Arco gas station, assigned a low-level soldier to infiltrate it and waited eight months while he worked himself into a position where he could implant a tiny, high-tech “skimmer” to steal customers’ credit-card information.

Armed with a fresh batch of personal-information numbers, the gang began draining thousands of Southern California bank accounts soon after “Erick,” the model employee who was by then entrusted with opening the station every day at 5 a.m., vanished in late April along with 1,500 packs of cigarettes, $1,000, a laptop, his employee application form — and the two digital video recorders used for surveillance.

Because the Arco is at a prime location at the bustling corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Prospect Avenue, the skimmer scam left a string of more than 1,000 victims, stretching from Santa Barbara to Newport Beach.

The “model employee” con represents an elite level of criminal sophistication in its planning, patience and execution, police say, which is now appearing in the South Bay and Los Angeles.

More here.


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