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ATM numbers stolen at local Arco station

May 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police are searching for a former Arco employee after hundreds of customers' debit card numbers were stolen at a station in Redondo Beach.The victims are customers of the Arco station at Pacific Coast Highway and Prospect who have been using debit cards at the ATM islands to pay for their gas. Money is still being stolen from customers' accounts, with new transactions posting daily.

Police say the employee worked at the station for eight months and then disappeared. They say he rigged one or more ATM machines to skim account numbers and PIN numbers.

"This data had been collected since October of 2008, all the way to April of 2009," said Sgt. Phil Keenan from the Redondo Beach Police Department. "However, that information was held and it wasn't really used by our suspect or suspects until just right after Mother's Day and then they hit as hard and fast. As far as we know they're doing it right now. We believe our loss is up to $200,000, that's a minimum right now."

Police don't know the true identity of the suspect. He used an alias and a fake driver's license to get a job at the Arco station as a cashier.

Regular customers voiced their frustrations when they found out about the scam.

"I would never use an ATM here for that reason because they've had trouble in neighborhoods around here anyway," said Kerri Hote, an Arco customer.

"It's going to make me think twice about using Arco," said Ron Rosales, another Arco customer. "This is uncalled for, they should have done a background check. There should have been some checks and balances involved. I'm in accounting, believe me, that kind of revenue, that's unheard of."

Many regulars of the station say they remember the cashier that police are looking for because he had a distinct Russian accent. He spoke fluent Russian and used the alias Erick Volonski.

If you've used the Arco station in the past several months, police say to check your bank statements and watch out for any unauthorized transactions.

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