SAPD Detectives Learn About the Growing Problem of Gas Station Skimmers

San Antonio Police today got the low down on skimmers, the increasingly commonly seen crime of placing electronic gadgets inside gas pumps to steal the credit card information of customers, News Radio 1200 reports.

Police say they received more than 200 reports of skimmers being found inside San Antonio gas pumps in 2018, nearly double the number seen in 2017, indicating the problem is growing.

Paul Duran, the Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service in San Antonio, says criminals get inside the gas pump housing and install the devices inside the slot where the credit card is inserted. So he says that is a good way for customers to protect themselves from becoming a victim of credit card theft.

"Inspect the pump to see if it has been tampered with in any way," he recommended. "Mostly the locking mechanisms that criminals are using to try to pry into and get access to the interior components, so they can place the skimming device inside of that pump."

He also recommends getting gas from pumps closer to the station itself, where employees would be more likely to notice the damage to the pump, or to simply pay inside, to avoid the self service credit card reader entirely.

Duran and other Secret Service agents police police detectives that the criminal will drive up to a pump, usually at a busy time when station employees are handling other tasks, and use a large vehicle to obscure the pump from the gas station office. They will then pry into the pump and insert the skimming device, which can be manufactured from simply items purchased from Amazon or Ebay.

They also frequently include a bluetooth device that will transmit the credit card numbers that have been captured to the criminals. They then use simple devices to imprint the numbers onto readily available cards, like an old gift card.

Secret Service Special Agent Tracy Steed says the criminals will then take the home made cards and use them to fill large tanks inside trucks and vans, and sell the stolen gasoline to truckers or sometimes to other gas stations.

"Resell the fuel for cash to merchants," Duran said. "They can also sell the compromised credit card data itself on the dark web."

Duran says in response to the skimming scam,oil company credit cards are moving to 'chip' systems, like debit cards, which will be far harder for the crooks to compromise.

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