Spike in 'skimming' devices found at AZ gas stations

Published: Aug. 12, 2016 at 11:48 PM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Arizona is seeing a spike in the number of criminals stealing credit card information at the pump.

According to new research from the Arizona Department of Agriculture, the number of "skimmers" found last month surpasses last year's total. The AG's office said between August 1 and August 12, authorities discovered 12 skimming devices. In 2015 only 11 were found for the entire year.

So far in August, the Department has reports of skimmers in Tempe, Glendale, Phoenix and Yuma. Three months ago, eight skimming devices were found at eight gas pumps at the Circle K store off of Ina and I-10.

Marana Police say criminals are now using better skimmer technology to rip people off at the pump.

"I was surprised. I come here every morning before work," Circle K customer, Casey Sullivan said.

Local Circle K customers were alarmed to learn police found eight skimming devices at that gas station.

"Surprised. I've never seen them and I hope I never get to," customer, James Allred said.

For Marana Police Sergeant, Chris Warren, the skimming devices recovered at the Circle K were more advanced than anything their department had ever seen before. He said the crooks are getting more creative with how they hide the devices.

"What we're seeing is they are actually opening up the pumps themselves and putting their devices on the inside – connected between the card reader and their computer," Sgt. Chris Warren with the Marana Police Department said.

Warren said in the past, crooks would need to return to the pump to get the device loaded with customer's credit card numbers- but now even that method has changed.

"A lot of them are transmitting your information via Bluetooth, to where the person can be in a hotel nearby, or a car nearby and everyone's card that's being used is transmitted to their laptop," Sgt. Warren said.

But as criminals come up with new ways to victimize people, his department will be cracking down. Meanwhile, local customers said they will now be more cautious when it comes to filling up at the pump.

"I'm going to start watching my bank account," Sullivan said.

Police also say whenever you pull up at a pump. Look for a security seal sticker. That helps you know the pump hasn't been tampered with.

In response to the increasing number of crimes, Governor Doug Ducey signed a law this year to increase the penalty when criminals use skimmers for financial gain from a class 6 felony to a class 5.

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