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New scam seen at South Florida gas pumps

Thieves scamming at gas pumps
Thieves scamming at gas pumps

BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – As the holiday shopping season kicks off, police are asking everyone to be extra careful and extra vigilant for theft and ID fraud.

There's a skimming scam happening at gas pumps across the nation. Just as quickly as you can fill your tank, thieves are stealing your credit card information.

This week, a state inspector doing a routine check at a Mobil gas station in Boynton Beach found something never before seen in South Florida -- a credit card skimmer inside one of the pumps.

"These guys will come in (and) install a skimmer on the pump," said Detective Eric Pahlberg, of the Hi-tech Crimes Task Force. "It'll stay on for a few days and they'll come back and take it off. Unless we discover that in the meantime, the gas pump owner-operator would never know it was even on there."

It takes roughly three minutes to install. Using a star-shaped tool, which can be purchased at any hardware store to open the pump, the thief unplugs a wire, attaches a 10-inch gray ribbon wire and plugs the ribbon wire back in. It then takes the data and transmits it wirelessly by a Bluetooth to someone stationed nearby.

The device steals your credit card and debit card information, as well as your PIN, by transmitting the information to a cellphone.

"You've got to have quite a bit of computer knowledge, electronic knowledge," Pahlberg said.

It's impossible for a customer to detect and tough for law enforcement to find.

"Gas station skimming is one of the easiest and best ways of doing it because it's hidden," said Dan Defelippi, a self-proclaimed reformed thief. "It only takes seconds to open it up and put it in there."

Defelippe was a credit card hacker who got busted and switched sides to avoid prison time.

"I knew it was stealing, I knew it was wrong," Defelippi said. "I would have an exact copy of your card. One swipe -- that's it."