Four Arrested in Stop & Shop EFT Tampering Case

QUINCY, Mass. -- Stop & Shop here said yesterday that on Monday night this week, four people were arrested in connection with an ongoing probe of the recent theft of credit and debit card account data through illegal tampering of the grocer's electronic card transaction (EFT) pin pad units in two stores.

The arrests were made after associates at a Coventry, R.I. Stop & Shop "noticed suspicious activity at the front of the store near our cash registers" and called police, the retailer said in a statement.

Although the names of those arrested have not yet been released, Stop & Shop spokesman Robert Keane told Progressive Grocer that they weren't employees of the company.

That would be in line with Stop & Shop's earlier assertion that it found no involvement by employees. "Our investigation has not uncovered any involvement or suspected involvement of any Stop & Shop personnel in the tampering," the retailer said in a statement on Feb. 17.

"We are hopeful that these arrests will bring those responsible for these crimes to justice," the chain added yesterday. It said it continues to cooperate fully with the authorities.

After the discovery of tampering, the retailer had performed an inventory and inspection of EFT units in all of its stores, and made sure the units are physically secure to prevent further tampering. "We believe these steps will protect the security of our payment network and the privacy of our customers using credit and debit cards," Stop & Shop noted in its earlier statement.

Two weeks ago, the grocer said it had learned of "possible fraudulent activity" relating to checkout lane EFTs in its Coventry and Cranston, R.I. stores, which resulted in the theft of some credit and debit card account and PIN numbers earlier this month. Evidence of tampering was also discovered at stores in Bristol, Providence, and Warwick, R.I., and Seekonk, Mass., although no fraudulent credit or debit card transactions have been reported at those locations.

Stop & Shop urged customers who had used electronic payment cards in the affected stores to "carefully monitor their bank or credit card statements relating to such cards, and that they contact the applicable bank or credit card issuer immediately in the event of any fraudulent transactions." Shoppers with further questions were told to contact the company by phone or visit its Web site.
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