I-TEAM INVESTIGATES: 'What we are hearing is it's organized crime.' Inspectors warn drivers of high tech card skimmers

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April 3rd, 2019

RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Only a few more days until many of us hit the road for sunny skies, warm weather, and the salty sea. But, one wrong stop along the way could dampen an entire trip. Georgia Department of Agriculture tells our I-Team a professional is targeting drivers at the pump with high tech skimmers.

"What we are hearing it's organized crime," Mike Bentley with the Department of Ag said. Inspectors like him are usually the first to spot a skimmer.

Liz Owens: "How can people tell?"
Mike Bentley: "You can't."
Liz Owens: "There is no way to tell if you have skimmer?"
Mike Bentley: "No, not until you open it."

Gone are the days of just wiggling a card reader to see if its a fake. Today's technology gives criminals an invisible cloak to rob you blind.

"On the back of where you stick your credit card in on the backside of it there is a wire and they take that wire out and put it into their flash drive," Bentley said. It takes less than 30 seconds to install on a gas pump. "These are Bluetooth they're getting a lot smarter. All they have to do is pull up in the parking lot with their computer and they can skim all of the information," he added.

Department of Ag has found skimmers across Georgia. In Florida, inspectors found more than 25-hundred skimmers over the last four years.

It's hard but not impossible to spot a skimmer. Just use the bad guy's own weapon against him- technology. iPhone has an app called Card Skimmer Locator. It scans for any Bluetooth low energy devices and alert users if one is detected. Android has the Skimmer Scanner app. It looks for a specific type of device nearby . Another way to defeat skimmers is through payment apps. Exxon has an app which lets you pay at the pump. Apple Pay is another option.