What happens after a skimmer gets your credit card information?

Stolen information used to buy massive amounts of fuel

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

BUSHNELL, Fla. - For the second day in a row, the Sumter County Sheriff's Office is warning citizens to stay safe after a credit card skimming device was found at another Central Florida gas station.

Deputies said the device was found at a Marathon Gas Station on Main Street in Bushnell, and they have no idea how long the skimmer may have been stealing customers' personal information.

On Wednesday, deputies provided details on a skimming device that was found Monday at a Sunoco in Sumterville. In that instance, a man contacted authorities after fraudulent charges appeared on his card.

Though this is the second device found in that area in a week, the threat isn't isolated to Sumter County. Hundreds of skimmers have been found all across the state in recent years, including more than a dozen that were found in Central Florida during a sweep of gas stations in 2015.

“We are finding a good deal of skimmers at gas stations,” Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services press secretary Adam Keller said. He added that the hundreds of devices officials have found are likely only a fraction of the skimmers that are hidden across the community.

Metro areas such as Tampa, Orlando and South Florida are common targets for skimming devices.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services announced on Wednesday the arrests of two Orlando men, who they said had been using fraudulent credit cards, likely made using information stolen from credit card skimmers.

The two men, Alain Michel Montenegro Perdomo, 34, and Gustavo Diaz Correa, 40, are accused of using the cards to fill up "bladder trucks," which are vehicles modified to hold hundreds of gallons of fuel.

Keller said criminals will re-encode gift cards with information stolen from credit card skimmers or bought on the Internet. The cards are used to buy massive amounts of fuel to sell on the black market.

He said this method allows the thieves to get cash the same day then use that money to fund further criminal enterprises.

In the Orlando arrests, Perdomo is accused of using 23 counterfeit credit cards to fill up a bladder truck that could hold more than 800 gallons of fuel. Correa had one fraudulent credit card used to fuel a 200-gallon tank, officials said.

Keller said gas stations are losing hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per day, because gas stations have to refund the money from the purchases, but they're still left without the fuel.

More than 40 people have been arrested in Florida in the past year on charges related to possessing a bladder truck, which Keller said pose a threat to the community because they're highly combustible.

These arrests are part of a crackdown and a push by the Florida Department of Agriculture to impose harsher punishments on people caught with fraudulent credit cards.

Keller said anyone who suspects they've fallen victim to a credit card skimmer should contact their bank, local law enforcement and the Florida Department of Agriculture at 1-800-435-7352. Follow the tips below to keep stay safe while paying at the pump. 

-Pay inside with cash whenever possible

-Use the gas pumps closest to the store, because criminals generally place skimmers on the farthest pump, since it's less likely they'll be discovered

-Make sure the gas cabinet is closed, and the security tape is intact. Check around to make sure none of the pieces wiggle or jiggle

-Shield the PIN as it is entered. Even if no one is around, criminals have been known to install hidden cameras near skimmers to record PIN entries

-When using a debit card, run it as credit so there is no PIN entry

-Monitor financial statements regularly. Report any suspected credit card theft to the authorities and the bank immediately

Have you fallen prey to gas station skimmers? Sound off with your experience in the comments below and News 6 may contact you for an upcoming story.

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