Inyo Sheriff’s office warns of credit-card skimming

News release from Inyo County Sheriff’s Department
On February 20th shortly after 8:00am, Inyo County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to the Coso Junction Chevron to investigate possible credit readers/skimmers.
The gas station clerk unlocked the pumps and five of the eight pumps were outfitted with mini memory cards attached to possible Bluetooth devices that enable remote access to credit card information.
When using your credit/debit cards at a gas pump look for the safety seal installed at each pump.  If you do not see a seal on the pump you may want complete the transaction inside the store, pay with cash, or go to a different gas station.
If you suspect a pump has been tampered with please call the Sheriff’s Office to investigate.

Skimmer inside pump

Here are some common ways to help detect a skimmer (tips provided by
1 – Look before you insert your card. Does anything look different than what you’re used to seeing?  The keyboard might look different, or the keys could look bigger.
2 – Is the seal broken? To place a skimmer inside a fuel pump, criminals must open the fuel dispenser door to insert the skimmer. Station employees may place serial-numbered security tape across the dispenser door, so check to see if the tape has been broken. If there’s no tape, check to see if the dispenser door looks as though it has been forced open. Look inside the throat of the card reader to see if you can spot anything hidden there.
3 – Use your fingers. If something doesn’t feel right, move on. Wiggle the ATM card reader to see if it’s loose. Is there a card reader on top of the existing one? Be wary if it’s hard to insert your card.
4 –  Phone apps can alert you to skimmers. They scan for available Bluetooth connections. Thieves have begun to use Bluetooth technology to get your card information. The crime is called blue skimming, and the criminals can sit 100 yards away in their vehicle while card information is transmitted to their laptop.
5 – Use common sense. Use fuel pumps in safe places. Avoid gas pumps that are out of sight of the clerk. Always cover the keyboard when you type. If using a debit card at the pump, choose to run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN number. There might be a new cardboard box containing literature next to the ATM, which crooks set up to conceal a pinhole camera. They use the camera to record you as you key in your PIN.
6 – Monitor bank and credit card accounts regularly to spot any unauthorized charges.


4 Responses to Inyo Sheriff’s office warns of credit-card skimming

  1. David Dennison February 26, 2019 at 10:14 pm #

    So sad,nowdays, you have to get all this advise and warnings from LE to avoid being scammed when you pull up to a pump and buying gas ,isn’t it ?…

  2. Rick O'Brien February 26, 2019 at 8:13 pm #

    It’s only a matter of time until the thieves reproduce or copy the security tape(patch) . Also, a photo of one of these bogus skimmers would be nice .

    • Charles James March 13, 2019 at 7:57 pm #

      Rick, there are lots of examples online, as well as those shown on the Inyo County Sheriff Facebook page. Just search for “credit card skimmers” in Images or Videos, also News. There are several types: some inside the pump and others on the outside.

      Sadly, it really isn’t that easy for the most people to spot them. Most are hidden inside the gas pump door. Even the state Weights and Measures guy at the workshop on Tuesday evening in Independence said that it was even hard for him to spot some of them. Most of the newer skimmers are hidden inside the gas pump and the crooks use Bluetooth to retrieve the credit card data.

      And you are correct about the security seal tapes. They are already available online at Ebay…of course. Even the keys that open the doors on the gas pumps are universal keys…and again, you can buy them online as well. There is some serious deficiencies in how this whole gas payment system is set-up, and its the consumer that pays the cost of higher gas prices. The skimmers are dirt cheap to make or buy. The crooks are almost never caught. They usually target one pump, but that one pump alone can generate 80-100 transactions/cards in a single day!

      The two BEST things you can do to avoid getting your credit card information “skimmed” is (1) Pay inside, not at the pump or (2) Only pay for gas with cash or use something like a Walmart prepaid cash card. Add money to the debit card as needed.

      I suppose a third option would be: Walk!

      And don’t forget to check your credit card statements regularly, especially after any trips or any gas purchases at any gas station off a main highway. Be aware that your stolen credit care information is not always used right away; it might not be used for weeks or months after it is captured.

  3. Steve February 26, 2019 at 3:38 pm #

    They didn’t mention that cards can be scanned by thieves while your card is in your wallet. It happened to me in a Reno Walmart. Your cards need to be in an Rf proof sleeve. Amazon sells them cheap.


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