SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) – Drivers in Sarasota better start checking their bank statements. A skimming device was found inside a gas pump, and it’s unclear how many people could become victims.
On Tuesday afternoon, an employee found a credit card skimmer inside pump 7 at a BP gas station. It’s never a good sign because by the time one is found, it could’ve compromised a whole lot of bank accounts.
Detective Carlos Verdoni with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office says an organized crime is responsible for installing these devices throughout the area. The components can be easily purchased online. Some crooks have master keys, or they’ll buy specialized screwdrivers at a hardware store to pry open the gas station panel.
The components can be easily purchased online. Some crooks have master keys, or they’ll buy specialized screwdrivers at a hardware store to pry open the gas station panel. Then, they’ll connect the skimmer directly between the credit card reader and the motherboard.
“[It can take] mere seconds. 30, 25 seconds,” said Det. Verdoni.
The skimmer is powered by a small battery to store the stolen data. It’s then wrapped in tape so the battery doesn’t fall off. Crooks often return to the pump to retrieve the information from the skimmer, or they can access the data wirelessly. Members of the organized group will then take the data, and make counterfeit credit cards.
“[They’re] very smart. Wish they would put their stuff toward better things to do,” said Verdoni.
Jim Krick was a victim of a credit card skimmer two weeks ago.
“It was a scary situation knowing that I got rent due and everything and all my money is being drained out of my account,” said Krick.
He’s stunned that his favorite gas station was hit too. He doesn’t care to go through this ordeal again.
“I assume I’m better off going inside and paying inside and having them set the pump,” said Krick.
The BP gas station owner tells 8 On Your Side that he believes someone installed the skimmer overnight while the store was closed. He’s going to improve his security protocols to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
More and more merchants are accepting chip-based credit cards, but Verdoni said it could be another five years or so before you start seeing gas pumps with the technology.
In the meantime, it’s important to use gas pumps that have intact stickers along the crevices or are in direct sight with the store clerk.
You can pay for your gas with credit cards so thieves won’t have direct access to your bank account. And of course, you can always just pay for your gas inside the store.
Anyone with information regarding these skimming devices should contact the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Bureau at 941-861-4900 or submit an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County by calling 941.366.TIPS (8477).