ORMOND BEACH, Fla. – The Ormond Beach Police Department is combating identity theft one swipe at a time. The police department launched Operation Counterswipe on Thursday and used their newest device, the “Skim Reaper.”
“It simulates a debit or credit card, and you insert it, then it would read how many times it had been read,” said Detective Sgt. Tom Larsen.
The red light on the device alerts that the card was read twice, indicating there is a skimmer. The blue light means there isn’t one.
News 6 tagged along with Larsen and his team as they tested a gas pump and an ATM. The “Skim Reaper” did not detect any skimmers this time, but police said fraudulent activity is one of their most prevalent crimes, with 217 cases reported so far this year.
“We’re trying to educate the citizens through education on not giving their personal identifiable information away. So, with that, we can do what we can with the physical capture which is the use of the Skim Reaper which we purchased recently,” said Sgt. Larsen.
News 6 introduced the “Skim Reaper” when it was just a prototype in 2018. Patrick Traynor, Professor in Computer Science at the University of Florida created the device along with two graduate students. Traynor said the device has been successful after they let NYPD test their tool.
“We’re deployed across 21 different states across the U.S with partners in retail, law enforcement and the financial industries,” said Traynor. “We love the fact that we were able to take research out of the lab and commercialize it and bring it to help protect consumers.”
The Ormond Beach Police Department said it’s one of the only law enforcement agencies in Volusia County using the device that costs about $500. Police said it’s important for people to not give out personal information and to always be vigilant at the gas pump, ATM, or any store with a credit card machine.
“If we combat this from two sides, educate the public and actually combat this then we can try to fight fraud a little bit,” Larsen said.