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Card skimmers found on local gas pumps and ATMs, cops warn of new tactics

Posted at 5:12 AM, Oct 19, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Financial crime investigators tell News5 card skimmer devices are being discovered on gas pumps and even installed on some ATM machines inside of businesses in Colorado Springs.

”I try to check about once a week just to make sure there’s nothing crazy out there. I’ve had my card swiped before,” said Nico Fano.

News5 ran into Fano as he wrapped up his shopping at a local grocery store. He says he’s learned the threat of card skimmers is real.

”I used to work at a company that worked a little bit with some of these and they would bring back some card readers that had skimmers on them and you couldn’t tell until we were taking them apart. It’s real. They are out there,” said Fano.

”I think this year we found about seven or eight at gas stations around town over the course of the year,” said Lt. Owne Scott of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

He says the gas stations where the card skimmers turn up is constantly changing, but the way consumers are targeted is often the same.

”They attach a device that will read the electronic data from your credit card or your debit card as you put it into the machine. It gets transmitted usually by bluetooth now to the 3rd party bandit who then can use all that information to clone credit cards and make online purchases and do a whole variety of things with that information,” warned Lt. Scott.

Now, this is in the news again. A recent warning from law enforcement spotlighted a trend where criminals are drilling holes in the touch to pay on gas pumps hoping consumers will run their cards in the readers where they’ve planted that skimming device.

”Tap to pay is right now probably the most secure way to pay with your card. They are getting around that and disabling it so you have to enter that card through the machine,” said Lt. Scott.

Fraudsters noticed so many people were concerned about card skimmers at gas stations in our state, they crafted an official looking email with a link to a fake list of gas stations that were supposedly impacted by skimming devices.

“I think people want to know about that. People like to have that information of what places they should go and what places that are safe. So it was enticing for a lot of people to look at that and want to click that link,” said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Aaron Lupton.

Investigators say the imposter email was not from CSP and was just a way to get consumers to click on a potentially dangerous link.

”It was an attempt to install malware, or spyware. Some type of electronic phishing,” said Trooper Lupton.

CSPD investigators say the presence of card skimmers on gas pumps and ATM machines comes and goes in waves, but they’re always working to get people who are planting these devices identified to hold them accountable.

“I know last year we had a case here where we were able to make some arrests on folks and get some pretty good jail time once we got them identified,” said Lt. Scott.

Here are some strategies that can help you avoid card skimmers at the gas station… 

  • Choose a pump closest to the store, skimmers are often found on pumps most out of sight
  • Look the pump over before paying, if something looks off tell a clerk
  • Use a credit card instead of a debit card. If criminals get your pin they can get direct access to your bank account.
  • Get a receipt. This can help investigators track things if they need to
  • Check for unknown bluetooth signals. You can sometimes identify them with your smartphone 
  • Try paying inside. It’s much harder for criminals to place a skimmer there with a clerk working.  

If you notice anything suspicious don’t just notify the gas station employees, but make a report to police. It could save people time and money.

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