Gas pump skimmers on rise in South Florida
A card skimmer – a small electronic device used to illegally collect data from credit and debit cards – was discovered Friday on a fuel pump at a Lantana Sunoco station.
Authorities retrieved the skimmer from pump number five at the station located in the 8800 block of Lantana Road, west of Florida’s Turnpike.
A spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office urged patrons of the Lantana station to check their bank accounts and report any unauthorized charges to their bank or credit card company.
Gas pump skimmers were spotted across South Florida in 2017, primarily in the first half of the year, with 46 skimmers found in Broward County alone.
Palm Beach County saw an even greater increase in skimmer use as 52 skimming devices were retrieved by June 8.
Miami-Dade County also reported a dramatic rise in skimmers according to the latest data.
The following is our article from June 20:
Eli Portnoy worried something was wrong when he went to pump gas at the station near his Miami Beach neighborhood.
“I actually played with the terminal to make sure it was loose of all things,” Portnoy reported.
Since he did not see anything unusual, he went on to fill his tank.
Two days later, he got a call from his credit card company questioning some charges that were made. Charges he says he didn’t make.
Soon, Portnoy realized his credit card information was breeched and he was able to trace it back to his neighborhood gas station.
“So I started doing homework and realized that there were other people that allegedly had their card stolen at the same location and I felt compelled. Someone needed to do something,” he said.
“The question is what’s the solution? And I don’t know what it is other than using cash.”
Skimmers continue to be found in gas pumps across Florida. 128 skimmers have been found statewide through mid-April 2017. That’s on track to pass last year’s total when 219 skimmers were found.
A law that went into effect in October 2016 was aimed at preventing these crimes. It required gas stations to have security measures including a sticky seal that would notify workers if someone had tampered with the pump.
“If the door opens, the seal breaks,” said Miami-Dade Economics Crime Detective Marcos Rodriguez explained. “Once you pull the seal off, it says void.”
Investigators from NBC 6 obtained the list of the stations where state inspectors have found skimmers this year but didn’t find security in place. Three locations we checked, there still weren’t seals on the pumps last week.
But what’s more alarming is that at more than half of the gas stations where the state has found skimmers, security tape was properly in place.
He also says the department is seeing thieves being more creative with the skimmers they use. That includes a skimmer that looks almost exactly like where the card gets inserted.
“You won’t even see the hanging wire,” he said.
He said thieves are even using Bluetooth technology to retrieve the credit card information without having to open up the machine.
Rodriguez recommends against using a pump with a seal that’s been tampered with or a pump that doesn’t have one. He also recommends using the pump closest to and in sight of a clerk. He also says to pay inside rather than at the pump.