Legislation introduced to increase penalties for card skimming
Proposed legislation could bring harsher penalties to those caught card skimming in Pennsylvania.
Card skimming, which is stealing credit card information by installing a device on ATMs, gas pumps or other credit machines, has been prevalent in York County and southcentral Pennsylvania over the past year.
"No one can escape this crime," Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said during a news conference Monday, Nov. 20.
Phillips-Hill presented the bill, which would make the charges of card skimming a grade three felony for first-time offenders and a grade two felony for second-time and subsequent offenders.
Currently, she said, cases are prosecuted under theft and identity theft statutes.
“The legislation would make it illegal to use or possess any device capable of accessing information encoded on the computer chip, magnetic strip or stripe, or other storage mechanism of a payment card," Phillips-Hill said.
Skimming: Phillips-Hill said she has been a victim of card skimming twice. She said last year there were 15 million Americans who were victims of credit-card theft, resulting in a loss of $16 billion.
"Of that figure, more than $2 billion was stolen using credit or debit card skimmers or scanners at gas pumps and ATMs," she said.
Phillips-Hill said with only a small percentage of consumers using cash to pay for gas, criminals have a chance to "hit the jackpot" with card-skimming devices.
“Simply put, these devices used for skimming are not currently illegal, even though those devices have no other use than for criminal, deceitful and deceptive purposes," she said.
Phillips-Hill said the legislation would add "some teeth" to the state crime code.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill, meaning it may now be considered by the full House, Phillips-Hill said in a Facebook post.
Questions about the legislation may be directed to Phillips-Hill's office at 717-428-9889 or 1-877-207-2272.
York County: In March, Newberry Township Police filed charges against five people who police say card-skimmed throughout the township.
Police charged Danusia Trifu, 49, Marion Trifu, 21, Benone Lapadat, 40, and Ionela Vaduva, 28, all of Lanham, Maryland, and Petrica Maradona Velcu, of Houston.
According to police, the five used skimmers to get card information, which they would then use to take money from ATMs in York and Cumberland counties.
Police Chief John Snyder said at the time that the devices look as though they belong there.
"They're not something that sticks out right away," he said, adding that they're "very high-tech."
Police say about $17,000 was stolen in the card-skimming in Newberry Township that the five are alleged to have been involved with.
Marion Trifu and Velcu also were charged by Southern Regional Police not long afterward.
Southern Regional Police Officer Michael Storeman said at the time the two were involved with card-skimming at the Rutter's at 249 N. Main St. in Shrewsbury.
The card-skimming cases have moved to the York County Court of Common Pleas, but no trial date has been set.
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at email@example.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.