Credit Card Skimmers Attack Arco Gas Stations In California

UPDATE: $300,000 Credit Card Skim Was “Model Employee” Scam

Criminals have been attaching credit card skimmers to gas pumps at Arco stations in California, stealing over $100,000 so far from about 80 people.

The victims purchased gas at Arco stations, which only accepts cash or debit cards. Thieves attached a card-reading device to the payment machine’s keypad that allows them to steal bank card numbers and personal identification codes.

It can be hard to spot a modded card reader or ATM machine, although if you see something that looks blatantly tacked-on you might want to think twice before swiping your card there. Snopes suggests you “get into the habit of using the same ATM for almost all of your transactions so as to better recognize when something is different with the machine.”

“ATM card thieves have struck statewide” [MercuryNews.com]

(Photo: blmurch)

Comments

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  1. akede2001 says:

    How is stealing credit card information considered ID Theft?

  2. BoomerFive says:

    @akede2001: I guess I am missing the words “ID theft” in that article.

  3. BoomerFive says:

    @akede2001: Ahh, I see its under that category, which makes sense to me…..

  4. mike says:

    @akede2001: It isn’t; but it’s to the media’s best interests to keep everyone in a constant state of fear.

  5. badgeman46 says:

    “which only accepts cash or debit cards”. Does this mean there are stations out there that will accept sexual favors for gas? Perhaps bartering some old wares or even skilled trades?

  6. donnie5 says:

    The thieves should have started doing this before gas was $4/gallon. They could have gotten more money from more people that way.

  7. AD8BC says:

    I understand the concept of a skimmer…. but how would it get the PIN numbers?

  8. Brie says:

    @badgeman46: it means that I gas up at places that take my AmEx since Arco doesn’t take credit cards.

  9. Buran says:

    In this day and age, you’re nuts if you use a debit card anywhere other than an ATM. It’s sad but true. I no longer have anything other than an ATM card — I’m not going to walk around being out money while I wait for an “investigation” to complete.

  10. badgeman46 says:

    @AD8BC: Usually this involves placing a camera aimed at the keypad. Since pinhole cameras are relatively cheap, they can be hidden in clever spots.

  11. Buran says:

    @badgeman46: I think you mean “small”. But yes.

  12. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    This was on KTVU a week ago and now you’re just reporting it? Jeez, you’re slow.

  13. rbb says:

    The pictures of the skimmer is here [www.mercurynews.com]

    The keypad is here: [www.mercurynews.com]

    It looks like the skimmer was placed over the card slot and the keypad had to be butted up against it because of the ribbon wire connector. The keypad, to me, would have been an obvious tip off because it is not flush to the surface and the buttons appear to be non standard (both in labeling and type)

  14. amyschiff says:

    @Buran: I agree. My bank (5/3) doesn’t even ALLOW you to used your check card as a debit and hasn’t for years. It’s actually a pretty good idea.

  15. weakdome says:

    I love the mugshots of the guys that mounted the skimmers. Especially the guy that didn’t even bother to wear a hat or sunglasses.

  16. weakdome says:

    er, I lied about the hat. But even still… it’s a great full-face shot.

  17. @badgeman46: Arco is notable for only accepting debit/credit cards for debit transactions; Arco claims this is because the credit card processing fees would lead them to raise pump prices.

  18. Triterion says:

    @CaliforniaCajun: BUT Arco still charges you a 45 cent fee every time you use your debit card… They don’t accept credit because Visa requires them to not charge a fee for use. Sneaky, huh!

  19. @Triterion: Yeah, so I just go the Shell down the street where gas is four cents more per gallon. I come out even price-wise, can use my debit/credit card, end up with better gas, and a much cleaner, easy-to-use station.

  20. SmoovyG says:

    @Buran: Agreed. Problem is, Arco doesn’t accept anything but cash or debit. To add insult to that, they hit you with a 45¢ fee for using the debit card. I avoid them whenever possible, but sometimes you just kind too have little to no choice in the matter.

  21. Eibmoz says:

    This has been going on for over a year. It happened to me twice in 6 months, using my BofA check card.

  22. geoffhazel says:

    ARCO can be worth it. The 76 last night on one corner was $4.169 per gallon, and the ARCO on the opposite corner was $3.999 per gallon. 17 cents * 17 gallons is $2.89 less .45 is still $2.44.

  23. DamThatRiver says:

    @geoffhazel: Around here (Portland, OR), the Arco stations are among the cheapest in town. The one up the street from my house can get pretty packed during rush hour.

  24. pipebender says:

    I get 5% cash back from my credit card company on gas. And since Arco is never 5% cheaper then other stations around me. I have no reason to fuel up at Arco.

  25. kylephoto760 says:

    There is one Arco station here way out on the northern edge of town that accepts credit cards. (Or at least they did last time I stopped there.) Needless to say, I was extremely surprised.