Detectives continue to investigate skimming devices at St Joseph gas stations

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Local and federal authorities are investigating after multiple skimming devices were found at gas stations in St. Joseph.

Det. Richard Shelton with the St. Joseph Police Department said the devices were found at three gas stations around town. Police have been investigating cases for the past three months.

“A skimming device is a device that is installed inside a gasoline pump and it goes between the card reader and the computer and it captures the data from the card when it’s inserted in the machine,” Shelton said. “Usually the suspects that are trying to utilize these types of card readers to capture information install them. Usually when someone’s not looking or during closed hours. They can easily get into these machines into stations that have not changed their locks.”

Shelton urges people to check the security tape near the lock prior to using their card.

“We always encourage the customer to use their credit instead of debt that way at least their pin number is saved and the bad guy isn’t getting the pin number from the card,” Shelton said. “You can look at the gas pump and there should be some sort of security tape where that opening is on the pump by the lock.  If that security tape says ‘void’ then don’t use the pump and notify the station operator.”

He said the St. Joseph Police Department is currently working with the United States Secret Service and the FBI on the cases.  Recently, Shelton said the Kansas City Police Department caught an alleged suspect installing a device at a gas station in the metro area. He said cases of skimming have increased dramatically since 2015 due to a new law requiring new card readers with EMV chip technology to be installed by October of 2017.

“The bad guys are trying to utilize that technology while they still can,” Shelton said. “The gas skimming numbers are up nationwide.”

He said the new chip technology will reduce cases like this dramatically.

“The chip technology has been around a long time in the Europe areas,” Shelton said. “Unfortunately the banks and credit card companies have been slow in issuing the new chip technology out.  If that had been in place back in Oct. of 2015 our losses today would be down dramatically.”

He said with the chip technology each transaction is given a random number.

“It must be in connection with the PIN number that’s issued with the card.  If the PIN number is not present then that card should not work,” Shelton said.

For more information on EMV chip card technology for businesses CLICK HERE to read more from the U.S. Small Business Administration.