Credit card skimmer found inside one gas pump
Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.
A stealthy criminal installed a credit card skimmer in at least one Gainesville gas pump, harkening back to a 2010 outbreak of such cases that resulted in at least 30 people reporting their cards had been hacked.
The Alachua County Sheriff's Office reported Thursday that a skimmer device had been found inside a gas pump at Oaks Exxon at 7305 Newberry Road on Wednesday.
Skimmers are placed inside pumps and out of customers' sight and copy information from the magnetic strips of credit and debit cards. Criminals can get the information via a wireless connection and use it to create fake or cloned cards.
The Sheriff's Office said in a press release it is unknown if there are any victims from the latest case.
Jimmy Lane, who works at the Exxon, said he discovered the skimmer when he checked on the pump. Lane said a skimmer was found in just one pump at the station.
"I go out and check everything. You have to visually look at it. That's how I found it," Lane said. "When I found it, it looked suspicious. I looked it up on the Internet to make sure I knew what I was looking at. I put those two together, and that's what it was."
Sheriff's spokesman Art Forgey said the skimmer found at Exxon is the only reported case. Forgey said ASO will be checking pumps at other gas stations, particularly along Interstate 75.
The agency also will try to learn if skimmers have been found at gas stations elsewhere in the region.
"It's right along I-75 with easy access. We'll check gas pumps and we're asking owners to check their pumps, too," Forgey said. "We haven't heard of any other cases. We will notify through an intelligence bulletin other agencies. I would be very surprised if there weren't others."
Forgey said ASO is not releasing photos of the skimmer found Wednesday.
In 2010, skimmers were found at several gas stations throughout Gainesville. Law enforcement and the National Association of Convenience Stores said at the time that the skimmers may have been the work of criminals in other countries.
About 30 people who bought gas at the local stores found to have the skimmers reported fraudulent charges to ASO.
An Orange County man was eventually arrested in connection with some of the cases.
Forgey said the incidents highlight the importance of examining bank account and credit card statements. Forgey gave the following tips:
-- Save receipts to compare with your credit card statement.
-- Open bills promptly or check them online often.
-- Report any questionable charges to the card issuer.
-- Notify the card issuer of address changes or travel.
-- Don't write the account number on the outside of an envelope.
People who find fraudulent charges on their card should notify the issuer, bank and law enforcement. The three credit reporting bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — should also be notified.