2 charged in elaborate bank skimming scheme to obtain access to - KCTV5

2 charged in elaborate bank skimming scheme to obtain access to bank accounts

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Pedro Donaciano Baptista-Zacarias, 38, (left) and Renato Lacovara, 31, (right) have been charged with trafficking in stolen identities. (KCTV5) Pedro Donaciano Baptista-Zacarias, 38, (left) and Renato Lacovara, 31, (right) have been charged with trafficking in stolen identities. (KCTV5)
JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -

After skimming account numbers and personal identification numbers from hundreds of banking customers in the metro, two men are now facing criminal charges.

Pedro Donaciano Baptista-Zacarias, 38, and Renato Lacovara, 31, have been charged with trafficking in stolen identities.

According to court documents in Jackson County, investigators say video surveillance caught the two men installing a skimming device at a Commerce Bank ATM in the 800 block of E 12th Street to steal customers account numbers and PIN's. The bank says the two men stole $350 and estimates a $112,649.86 in potential loss. They say banking info was stolen from 44 customers at that location.

Three of the stolen Commerce Bank accounts were used at an ATM near Argosy Casino in Riverside, MO.

Documents say the Missouri State Highway Patrol arrested LaCovara in regards to the ATM use. Baptista-Zacarias fled the scene but was later arrested by the Riverside Police Department.

Both men are also accused of using the skimmer at an ATM in the 200 block of W 43rd Street and in the 4000 block of Rainbow Road in Kansas City, KS. The bank says the men were able to make off with $21,000. A total of 100 accounts were compromised and $388,597 was potentially stolen from the two locations.

According to court documents, Highway Patrol obtained a search warrant for a Super 8 hotel in Platte County and discovered a laptop, a skimming device, 100-200 plastic gift cards and approximately 20 blank credit cards. Officers also found $10,400 inside the room.

Jeff Lanza, a retired FBI agent, says it’s not uncommon but criminals are finding new ways to hack personal information.

“But what the crooks try to do is find news ways to do it to fool us or fool the bank," Lanza said. 

To avoid a compromised account Lanza says go inside your bank to withdrawn money.

“If you can’t do that look for a security camera that’s near the ATM machine," Lanza said. "Look for stickers regarding security. If they do get your information and they try to get money from your account you get an alert and you call them right away and stop any further activity."

Sandy Ozeier, a Commerce security rep and VP said, as a bank customer, you are not liable should you become the victim of fraud caused by an ATM skimmer. The bank will cover the loss.

Fortunately, ATM skimming attacks are rare, and becoming rarer as our tools for detecting them have become more effective.

Nevertheless, customers should remain alert. If the ATM looks suspiciously bulky or clunky, has a mismatched finish, or appears to have a pinhole camera, do not use it.

Be very cautious at gas pumps. Skimmers can be hidden inside. We advise customers never to enter their PIN at a gas pump.

Court documents show that Baptista-Zacarias and LaCovara are Venezuelan and are in the United States on visas but LaCovara’s visa had expired, putting him in the country illegally.  

Prosecutors requested a $250,000 bond on Donaciano. LaCovara was already being held on a $30,000 bond.

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