Three men from Florida and New York have been arrested by investigators from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly skimming and cloning credit card information around southern and midcoast Maine.

Shortly before 1 a.m. June 18, sheriff’s deputies arrested Yaisder Herrera Gargallo, 23, and Juan Carlos Febles, 51, both of Miami, Florida; and Febles’ son, Jose Castillo Febles, 29, of Richmond Hill, New York.

The three men are accused of surreptitiously installing a special cable inside point-of-sale credit card machines that records a user’s credit information without the user knowing it. The card transaction goes through as normal, with the card never leaving the possession of its owner, said Lt. Donald Foss of the sheriff’s office.

Later the thieves return to collect a memory card from the device and copy the card information onto blank credit cards, Foss said.

“Gift cards are a frequent purchase for folks who engage in credit card cloning, and really to a large extent purchasing gift cards with an illegal transaction is quasi-money laundering,” Foss said.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said it was first alerted to the criminal activity this month when residents of Gray and New Gloucester reported fraudulent charges on their credit cards at local businesses.

After investigating the reports, deputies obtained surveillance footage of the suspects and a description of their vehicle, a rented Jeep Liberty with Massachusetts plates.

The arrests were made early last Saturday morning after Sheriff’s Deputy Todd McGee spotted the vehicle on Route 123 in Brunswick, and stopped it with the help of the local police department. A search of the SUV turned up electronics, jewelry and clothing, along with dozens of cloned credit cards and two credit card skimming devices.

Foss said investigators still do not know the monetary value of the thefts, and are working with local, federal and banking authorities to continue the investigation.

Gargallo was charged with aggravated forgery, misuse of identification and theft by deception, and has since posted $10,000 cash bail.

Both members of the Febles family were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit aggravated forgery and remain in custody at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Foss said he recommends that to avoid such scams, consumers should choose to swipe their bank cards or credit cards at registers staffed by a person, which are far less frequently the target of such scams because the illicit hardware needed to collect the information is much more difficult to install undetected.