CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Keeping spring breakers from being scammed by gas station skimmers, is the goal of a recent sweep by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, focusing on beach town hot spots.
Half of the skimmers found by state inspectors during the sweep were discovered in Pinellas County, one of Florida’s most popular Spring Break destinations.
Nearly 500 gas stations in popular Spring Break destinations were inspected.
Inspectors uncovered eight skimmers statewide, with four of those in Pinellas County.
Inspectors checked 66 locations in Pinellas for skimmers. The devices were found at the following locations-
- One Stop Giant BP located at 6151 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg (1 skimmer)
- One Food of Pinellas located at 901 4th St. N. in St. Petersburg ( 1 skimmer)
- Quick Mart of Largo located at 1990 West Bay Dr. in Largo (2 skimmers)
8 on Your Side wanted to find out why two skimmers were left on place, for who knows long, stealing information from customers. We visited the Quick Fuel store on West Bay Drive in Largo.
“We’re doing a story some skimmers that were found on your pumps out here,” we told the clerk.
“I don’t, you have to talk to the boss,” said the clerk.
With Spring Nreak heating up, inspectors want to make sure visitors don’t get taken when they fill up.
8 On Your Side asked a second employee at the Quick Fuel store about the skimmer.
“I have no idea about that sir. If I know, I will catch the guy and I will call you first,” he said.
Customer Beth Weekes said she takes steps to prevent skimming. “Sometimes, I get lazy and want to use it out here, but I usually try to go inside and use my debit card inside, and I also try to park close to the building,” she said.
Skimming prevention can amount to a small strip of tape to indicate if someone tampered with the pump.
“It’s just another way hackers hack. It’s the way of the world anymore,” said customer Steve Schusler.
Inspectors found a skimmer at BP station at 6151 North 4th Street in St. Petersburg.
Red tape is their chosen prevention method.
Those red stickers covered locks at the Mobile-Exxon at 901 4th Street in St. Petersburg. A manager called after our visit, promising better locks and keys are coming.
If undetected, the number of consumers victimized by each skimmer averages around 100 per device, with an average of $1,000 stolen from each victim, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Here are the other popular Spring Break destinations in Florida that inspectors checked during the sweep and what they found-
- Panama City Beach/ Panhandle –77 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Orlando area – 128 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Ft. Myers Beach – 36 facilities, 0 skimmers found
- Daytona Beach/ Cocoa Beach/ Flagler Beach/ New Smyrna Beach – 75 facilities, 1 skimmer found at the Sunoco Food Mart located at 5625 N Atlantic Ave. in Cocoa Beach
- West Palm Beach – 51 facilities, 2 skimmers found at the Mobil/7-Eleven located at 3035 N Military Trail in West Palm Beach and at the Texaco/Sunshine located at 2274 Okeechobee Blvd. in West Palm Beach
- Ft. Lauderdale – 25 facilities, 1 skimmer found at the Valero located at 1 N. Federal Hwy in Pompano Beach
- Miami – 21 facilities, 0 skimmers found
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