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Legislation, introduced last month proposing harsher penalties for credit card skimming, passed the state House of Representatives.

Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said in a news release the House unanimously approved the legislation  Dec. 6.

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 for the past year.

Phillips-Hill said in a news release that she's hoping the legislation can move quickly through the Senate and onto Gov. Tom Wolf's desk.

More: Legislation introduced to increase penalties for card skimming

Bill: Phillips-Hill presented the bill at a Nov. 20 news conference in Harrisburg. 

"No one can escape this crime," she said, noting her bill would make the charges of card skimming a third-degree felony for first-time offenders and a second-degree felony for second and subsequent offenses.

Currently, she said, card-skimming 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.

During the news conference, she said 15 million Americans were affected by card skimming last year, leading to a loss of $16 billion.

More: Alleged 'card-skimmers' face additional charges

York County: In March, Newberry Township Police filed charges against five people allegedly 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.

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Police Chief John Snyder said at the time that the devices look as though they belong there.

Police say about $17,000 was stolen through card-skimming activity in Newberry Township that the five are alleged to have been part of. 

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 cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.

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