Card Skimmer Harvests $10,000 From 45 Victims At California Gas Station

Police suspect that a card skimmer installed at a gas station in El Monte, CA is responsible for $10,000 in credit card fraud, says KNBC:

“It looks like the victims were gassing up here and using the outside pump terminals, and their credit card information was compromised,” El Monte police Detective Brian Glick said.

Police don’t believe it was an inside job but that the fraud artists picked the station in the 4300 block North Santa Anita Avenue because of its high customer volume.

Fraudulent withdrawals, ranging from $400 to $1,500 per customer, were made in Las Vegas, Palms Springs and New York, police said.

Police didn’t find the device, but think that 45 credit/debit accounts with transactions from the same gas station is, uh, a bit of a coincidence.

ID Theft Investigated At El Monte Gas Station [KNBC]
(Photo:KNBC)

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  1. forgottenpassword says:

    What is disturbing is that these POS thieves can break into the pump & install little modules that capture credit card info…. and there is nothing you can do about it to protect yourself (except ONLY use actual credit cards at the pump…. NOT debit cards).

    Its one thing to see & recognize a surface-mounted skimmer, but when they are installed inside the pump…you have no idea that your CC info has been stolen.

  2. teqsun.com says:

    @forgottenpassword: that picture wasnt of the actual skimmer… I doubt they actually break into the pump and install a skimmer… that is a little high profile.

    most likely it is on the outside but looks inconspicuous.

  3. UpsetPanda says:

    I’m waiting for all of the “this is why I only use cash” people to chime in.

  4. DrGirlfriend says:

    Man, it gets tiresome to have to be on the lookout for so many scams. I’ve concluded that I’m not paranoid. The entire world really is out to get me.

  5. forgottenpassword says:

    @teqsun.com:

    It happens! All they do is break into the pump while the place is closed, then crimp in a wired module onto one or two wires inside the pump then close the pump up. Then come back later, open the pump up & remove the module.

    I think it is a safer way for thieves to get the cc info, instead of sticking a fake skimmer facade onto/around the real credit card reader. The one installed inside the pump cant be as easily discovered.

    Could have been done either way though. I was just pointing out that you cant defend against the latter method.

    Myself I make it a point to frequent only a few gas stations (that have consistantly low prices) & familiarize myself with how the CC reader looks.

  6. hn333 says:

    Card skimmers are very easy to install. There placed right on top of the real card slot with tape. It’s pretty easy to see if you know what to look for. But most people don’t even notice.

  7. Jasmo says:

    @hn333: Tell us more … just how easy is it? Do you have pictures? Include your face in the pictures so we can be sure it’s really you.

  8. SacraBos says:

    I’ve known about skimmers, but that explains why I’ve been seeing more “Security” tamper-resistant stickers being pasted across the panel edges of gas pumps recently…

  9. Me - now with more humidity says:

    That’s an ARCO station– they only accept debit cards or cash. No credit cards.

  10. dearheart says:

    Same thing happened to me (and a bunch of other people) a couple months back at a gas station in Costa Mesa, CA.

    Luckily, you can’t do much damage to the bank account of grad student, and for all of their other hassles, BofA was easy enough to work with through all of it.

  11. hn333 says:

    @Jasmo No :P Not a crook

  12. HalOfBorg says:

    Speedpass. No card.

    [www.speedpass.com]

  13. trollkiller says:

    @hn333: Didn’t Nixon say the same thing?

    See people this is why IDing someone for a credit card sale is a good thing. Of course you would have to OMG walk into the store.

  14. WhatsMyNameAgain says:
  15. trollkiller says:

    @WhatsMyNameAgain: It does not matter that declining a sale because someone refused to show ID is against that merchant agreement, IDing to prevent credit card fraud is a good thing.

  16. Spaztrick says:

    @DrGirlfriend: The entire world is not out to get you, the smaller countries might still be neutral.

  17. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    But this is America! We want things to be convenient AND safe. Like expensive AND cheap?
    So checking my ID when I use my card is good AND bad.

  18. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Spaztrick: Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re NOT out to get you.

  19. savvy999 says:

    I’m not a criminal mastermind. Exactly how does one commit ‘credit card fraud’…. even if you have the numbers and exp date, what could you do with it? You can’t buy anything cool online that needs to be shipped somewhere, since they will only ship to the address listed/approved by the cardholder. If you shipped some scam merchandise to a different place, obviously the cops will just go there and pick you up.

    Are they buying pr*n online?

    Are the scammers creating fake credit cards from the numbers, and then using them at point-of-sale places? In that case, every store has video at the checkouts.

    Sure it would take a little bit of detective work to figure out who is using them, but eventually the scammers would get caught.

    ?me confused as to how a scammer thinks they’re going to make this a long-term venture…

  20. anatak says:

    @forgottenpassword: The story never said anything about them being inside the pump.

    @CaffeinatedSquint: Funny, and here I’m waiting for all of the “this is why credit cards are safer” people to chime in.

  21. cerbie says:

    Was it inside the pump, or an external device? If external, then, oh well. Look next time. If internal…woah.

    @doctor_cos: it can be safe and convenient. But that would mean thinking of the future. CCs could have the data on the card encrypted, such that it would need to be sent to the CC company to have anything done with it. A merchant not authorized to sent might run into trouble, or at least be easily tracked, and fraud more easily found (note that I’m saying the CC readers would be made so they could be well tracked, and then the rest goes on at the CC company’s end…but it would still require a good bit of work, to keep spoofing from happening).

    But…that would mean starting 10+ years ago, to create a system that can properly track the CC transactions. Large organizations and myopia go hand in hand.

    Now, ID for purchase is a gray area. I’m not going to refuse to show ID, because I do think it is in my best interests. But, if Visa thinks it’s not in theirs (that is, fraud from such a transaction costs less than they gain by your aunt sending you to buy stuff with her CC), then it is the merchant’s responsibility to let it be Visa’s problem.

    I would think the best solution (which I know is actually common, though requiring it may be, as well) is to ask for ID, but not require it. This can act as a deterrent, and if needed, the cashier will likely remember details about the 0.002% of people that refused.

  22. Anonymously says:

    It would be nice to have detailed instructions on how to recognize and avoid card skimmers (pictures please).

  23. @trollkiller: Preventing fraud is why Visa and Mastercard don’t want merchants forcing cardholders to also show ID. It’s one thing for someone to just get your credit card number, it’s another for that person to also get your name, address, and Driver’s License number.

  24. mac-phisto says:

    @Greg P: good luck. sometimes you will never know. banks suggest looking out for something out of place…square boxes on the outside of atms, gas pumps, etc., multiple swipe slots…if it doesn’t seem right, go somewhere else.

    you can’t really rely on pictures, b/c these devices are often frankensteined together. you could confiscate a dozen skimmers & they’d probably all be different in some way.

    even the method for skimming data can differ. some devices simply piggyback onto the existing system “listening in” for card info. others act more like a pass-thru, providing a legitimate operation as part of the transaction as well as storing the data (e.g., a compromised mag-reader). still others are external to the transaction & would require a person on the inside to make sure the cards are skimmed (this last one is mostly found at restaurants & retail locations…one i saw was mounted on a retail pos in line with the legitimate mag reader. one swipe completed the transaction & skimmed the data…no one was the wiser).

  25. If you shipped some scam merchandise to a different place, obviously the cops will just go there and pick you up.

    @savvy999: Doesn’t the card holder have to see that something happened on their card and then tell the police first?

    If the card holder doesn’t see the fraudulent charge before the scammer has gotten the merchandise how does that work?

  26. trollkiller says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Checking an ID should take less then 2 seconds. Does the face math the person, does the name match the credit card. Unless they have a photographic memory they won’t be able to remember your info.

    The credit card companies do not care about fraudulent charges. The merchant eats the full cost of the product when there is a charge back.

  27. econobiker says:

    @savvy999:

    Savvy999,
    You need to look up MSNBC’s program “To catch an ID thief” for descriptions on how scammers use credit cards. Bascially it seems that the real fraud rings trade info on “cardable” businesses, meaning businesses which don’t care about personal verfication or will ship to different names and addresses than on the cc.

    The show (with Chris Hanson of “to catch an online predator fame) tracked purchases in the name of say “susan keller” to some oafish idiot’s house in PA who was reshipping the packages to Africa (Nigeria or close by of course) under the impression that he was going to marry “susan keller” someday and be part of her business. And the poor slob was shipping the packages with his own money to boot- to the tune of $40k!!!! (the pics of “susan keller” were so freaking obvious pull downs from an internet model site too).

    It seems like MSNBC found not only this guy but a couple of women who were duped in the same way- aggregating multiple shipments for reshipment to Africa for their online “fiance”‘s import/export business.

    I get a few of these import/export business emails everytime I post a high ticket (over $100) on craigslist.

  28. trollkiller says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: p.s. your name, address and DL number is readily available. The DMV sells the info to marketers. Your tax records are also available with your SS number intact. Fear your Government not the merchant trying to prevent theft.

  29. Thanatos- says:

    [www.utexas.edu]

    Has some pics of one type of card skimmer and ATM scam. Im still looking for one that had like 4 different types that worked with credit cards also.

  30. FightOnTrojans says:

    El Monte FTW!!! Gotta love my hometown criminals!

    @savvy999:
    Video at checkstands does nothing for you (the victim of credit card fraud/theft) unless someone can ID the person using the card info fraudulently. My wallet was stolen several years ago and the perpetrators happily walked in and out of the same Target store and made several purchases until I figured out what happened and shut it down. There was plenty of pictures and video of them using my cards (I was shown it), but it did nothing for me because I didn’t know who they were and neither did the deputies. Well, I guess it did do something for me as it helped to prove to the credit card companies that I wasn’t trying to scam them.