Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Skimming devices found on gas pumps

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 by Debra Palmieri dpalmieri@tnonline.com in Local News

State Police Troop M, Bethlehem, and the U.S. Postal Inspector are investigating numerous gas pump skimming devices placed on gas pumps at the Top Star gas station and convenience store, 5626 Route 145, Laurys Station, North Whitehall.

According to police, three skimming devices, which could not be detected from outside the pump or by the individual pumping gas, were found Aug. 30 inside different gas pumps.

The devices appeared to be possibly placed on the pumps on or before Aug. 9 through Aug. 30, when they were removed.

More than 20 individuals have been identified as having their credit cards used and there are numerous other card numbers for which the owners have not been identified.

In addition, police say, there may be more individuals who did not report the access device fraud to police or reported it to police departments outside the area.

The loss at this time is more than $75,000, with more to be determined.

The debit cards, with PINs, were used at U.S. Post Offices in Lehigh, Northampton and Bucks counties, and Northern New Jersey and Brooklyn, N.Y.

Police say there have been numerous ATM transactions including withdrawals, balance inquiries and, in some instances money transferred from the individual’s savings account to his or her checking account.

The loss per individual ranged from $200 to $5,000.

Two more skimming devices were found Sept. 22 and another on Oct. 4, on the gas pumps. No fraud has been linked to these skimmers.

Police say the case began with BB&T bank having multiple cards fraudulently used and found the common point of compromise.

Top Star was contacted and advised to check the pumps.

It was later determined the skimmers were on the pumps and not found by Top Star.

According to police, crews that place skimming devices target these type of gas pumps.

Police also say there is a security tape on the pumps to assist if they have been tampered with but this Top Star did not use it.

This Top Star is now using the security tape and will change the pumps for newer models, police say.

The same group of people is believed to have placed a skimming device between July 27-29 at the Top Star, Kutztown Road, Kutztown.

Although no skimming device was found there, multiple banks have the same fraudulent charges at post offices where the customer used his or her debit card with PIN between July 27 and July 29.

Anyone who may have used their debit card with PIN at Top Star, Laurys Station, and has fraudulent charges at post offices is asked to call State Police Troop M, Bethlehem, at 610-861-2026.

Police advise never to use a debit card with PIN or a debit card as it is linked to a checking or savings account.