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Police Detect 'Large Scale' Credit Fraud Through Gas Pump Skimmers

Staff Reports

Images of a card receiver, left, and one with a skimmer, right, from the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A "large scale" credit card fraud operation was detected in the city.
 
Police say skimming devices were found inside two local gas pumps, at both Lipton Marts at 580 North St. and 460 South St. Police said it is not known how long the devices had been in place nor how much credit card information was stolen.
 
Police say the number of locations with such devices could increase as authorities worked to inspect gas pumps throughout the city.
 
The devices take credit card information when the cards are scanned and pass it along to third parties. The devices have been removed from both locations, eliminating the risk of further theft. However, residents who have used those pumps are asked to check their records and "be vigilant for signs of fraud."
 
Should residents find signs of fraud, they are asked to contact their bank first and then the Pittsfield Police Department at 413-448-9705.
 
Police say similar devices were found on gas pumps in Great Barrington and if anyone sees fraudulent activity from either of those to contact Police in that town.
 
PC Magazine did an article last year on how to identify a skimmer at an ATM or gas pump. 
 
Area businesses which operate the "Gilbarco Advantage" or the "Gilbarco Encore" pumps are asked to check their equipment as well because it appears those particular pumps were targeted.
 
Lipton Energy is reportedly cooperating with the investigation but cannot assist customers with questions about the investigation. Gas pumps throughout the city will be inspected by the end of Wednesday. 
 
Massachusetts State Police, the Massachusetts Division of Standards, and local authorities are working the investigation.
 
Correction: an earlier version stated that skimmers were found in Lee but Lee Police say that is incorrect.
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Gasoline Smell Brings Williamstown Fire Department to College Dorm

by Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

Fire Department personnel check out the source of the odor, a hole that is part of a steam tunnel replacement project.
 
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Fire Department plans to investigate the construction work that appears to have produced a smell of gasoline in the mechanical room of a Williams College dormitory.
 
Fire Chief Craig Pedercini said the smell appeared to be related to the use of gasoline by a contractor working on a steam line replacement project on West Lawn, to the west of Morgan Hall, a 100-bed residence hall at the corner of Spring and Main Streets that currently is not occupied.
 
After evaluating the situation for nearly two hours, Pedercini said there was no fire or health issue, but the Fire Department and college were employing fans to push the odor out of Morgan Hall and prevent it from infiltrating nearby West College, a 45-room Main Street dorm to the west of the steam tunnel replacement work.
 
The report was called in to the fire station at about 5:55 on Thursday evening.
 
"The first arriving officers investigated and found they did have an odor of gasoline in the building," Pedercini said.
 
"What we’re finding out now is that the contractor was doing some work, and there was a need to use Styrofoam as part of it, and, apparently, a need to remove the Styrofoam. And they used gasoline, it sounds like, to dissolve the Styrofoam away from the pipe. The odor is just lingering in that hole and that steam vault."
 
Pedercini said he did not believe that it was standard practice to use gasoline that manner.
 
"No," he said. "I would say no. There will be more looked into that part, but it’s not kosher to me at all."
 
All of the gasoline use was outside the building, in the hole dug for the steam tunnel project, Pedercini said.
 
"You can see where they were using it," he said. "The vapors will hang in that ditch and find a nook or a crack or if there’s a pipe running [into the building] and there’s a little space round it, the vapors will seep through."
 
There were a half-dozen people in Morgan Hall when the alarm sounded. The building was cleared by the time firefighters arrived, Pedercini said.
 
"It’s not full of kids yet," he said. "It’s kind of nice that if it’s going to happen, it happen now.
 
"It’s unfortunate, but I think it’s a poor practice [to use gasoline in that manner]. I’ll be investigating it, and I’m sure the college will want to know why they were doing it."
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Superior Court Briefs: Aug. 14 - Aug 17

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Monday, August 14.
 
Candace Mateo, 37, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on two counts of illegal ownership of a firearm, two counts of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and single counts of trafficking in cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin, possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute - her second offense - conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute, armed career felon, misleading a police officer, receiving stolen property, and improper storage of a firearm.
 
She was released on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield and the execution of a search warrant at her home on May 17, 2017.
 
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, August 15.
 
Keith David Beland, 26, of Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of assault and battery with serious bodily injury, and resisting arrest.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $1,500 bail. Beland allegedly assaulted a 23-year-old man in Adams on May 14, 2017.
 
Julian Medina-Aviles, 26, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of intimidation of a witness or other person by means of a reward, intimidation of a witness, and violation of an abuse prevention order.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50 bail. He is currently being held on $10,000 bail related to other criminal charges.
 
The charges are connected to another criminal matter that allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between January 13, 2017 and March 30, 2017.
 
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Wednesday, August 16.
 
Travis Perras, 25, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed assault with intent to murder, armed assault with intent to rob, and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $100,000 cash or surety bail. Perras allegedly stabbed and attempted to rob a 50-year-old pizza delivery driver in North Adams on July 14, 2017.
 
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, August 17.
 
Garrett Vil, 26, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of intimidation of a witness, and single counts of mayhem, assault and battery causing serious bodily harm, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, assault and battery, and threat to commit murder.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash bail. Vil is accused of assaulting a 23-year-old woman in Pittsfield on March 4, 2017.
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Customer Halts Robbery of East Street Video

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A store patron stopped an unarmed robbery of East Street Video Wednesday night.
 
Police say at about 8:45 p.m. Ivy Rogers, 32, of Pittsfield allegedly entered the store wearing a mask and multiple layers of clothing. She then slammed the clerk's head into the counter and demanded the money from the register.
 
After taking the money, she attempted to flee the store but was confronted by a customer. That individual eventually pinned Rogers down until police arrived. 
 
Rogers was arranged in Pittsfield District Court Thursday morning on a single count of unarmed robbery.
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North Adams Man Accused of Stabbing Pizza Driver Arraigned

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A North Adams man accused of stabbing a 50-year-old Domino's delivery driver and trying to rob him of money was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court.
 
Travis T. Perras, 25, of Union Street had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf for single counts of armed assault with intent to murder, armed assault with intent to rob, and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
Judge Daniel Ford ordered that he continue to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $100,000 cash or surety bail.
 
It is alleged that Perras stabbed Charles Sauer on July 14 at about at about 11:30 p.m. near Perras' Union Street home. Officers arriving on the scene found Sauer in his vehicle with multiple stab wounds to his chest and abdomen. He was able to identify his assailant and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Perras was located in a residence not far from the crime scene and taken into custody a short time later. 
 
The investigation was conducted by members of North Adams Police Department, Massachusetts State Police - Troopers, Detectives and Crime Scene Division and Adams Police K9.
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