Gas Pump Card Readers Used to Scam Tri-Citians Out of Thousands
Two Portland, OR men are in the Benton County jail after being arrested by Richland Police. The two men had made thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases, after stealing credit and debit card numbers from local and regional gas pumps.
Richland police say 23-year-old Stevie M. Millan, and 30-year-old Jesus E. Matamoro-Almaguer came through the Tri-Cities and on April 19, 20 and 23rd and 24th, and stole the numbers from gas pumps using a card reader. They then made the purchases at Burlington Coat Factory and Walgreens.
Then Richland police learned the two had returned May 6, and checked into the Motel 6 on Fowler St. A raid on the hotel and search of their room confirmed the identity theft, and they are also linked to similar identity theft and fraud across the state.
Police say that while people often report such fraud to their financial institutions, they usually fail to notify police. This often makes finding the culprits nearly impossible. Both are facing multiple counts of First Degree Identity theft.
When you use your debit or credit card at automated gas pumps, thieves will often pop open the card reader where you insert your card, and install a skimmer or reader that captures the numbers. They then remove it, usually within a few hours. Experts say they're not intended to be there long, just enough to capture a few dozen or hundred numbers.
Then, using 'blank' credit cards, the scammers can input the stolen data into the magnetic black strip, or swipe strip, on the back of a new card, and use it at ATM's and other businesses.
Police say when you're getting gas, look to make sure the pump has an untampered, unbroken sticker that covers the seam where the card reader door opens. If it looks like it's been broken, or the card reader looks battered like someone tried to pry it open, don't use it. You've probably seen these stickers on pumps where you get fuel. Make sure that sticker isn't broken or tampered with.
Also, use the pumps closest to the front door or cashier. Thieves are far less likely to install readers on pumps well within view of the clerk inside.