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Gas skimmer sweep: Local stations take steps to make pumps more secure

Published: Friday, May 24, 2019 @ 1:54 AM
Updated: Friday, May 24, 2019 @ 11:28 AM

Staff Writer
MARK GOKAVI/Staff(Staff Writer)

When inspectors searched local gas stations for credit card skimmers this week as part of a seven-county sweep, it was what they didn't find that made news.

RELATED: 5 credit card skimmers found during weekend sweep in Montgomery County

The Montgomery County Auditor’s Office weights and measures inspectors did not find any credit card skimmers in a sweep Tuesday and Wednesday, county Auditor Karl Keith announced Friday.

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More than 100 devices have been found in Ohio since 2015, half of which were found in southwest Ohio. Seven were found last year in Montgomery County alone.

The auditor noted many gas stations have taken extra precautions to keep their consumers safe at the pumps.

“We are also pleased to announce that a number of these stations have taken steps to make their pumps more secure and installed site-specific locks on their pumps to make it more secure,” Keith said.

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Skimmers capture credit card information from customers, leading to fraud and identity theft.

The auditor had three teams of inspectors check more than 100 gas stations in Montgomery County. The 100 stations included the check of about 840 pumps.

“When we do one of these, we target where we go,” Keith said. “We target stations where we have found skimmers in the past or what we consider vulnerable to this time of crime.”

Keith also said that even though they did not find skimmers during the sweep, does not mean they will not return.

Gas station pumps come with standard factory installed locks that can be opened through a universal key. Criminals can easily purchase the same key. The auditor’s office purchased one for $3 three years ago.

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The southwest Ohio counties conducting sweeps collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI continues to watch for gas skimmers, along with the auditor’s office during normal inspections throughout the year.

Keith said the sweep was prompted because of the holiday weekend.

Nearly 43 million Americans are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, with 1.6 million of those in Ohio. Officials estimate this number will be at its highest since 2005.

Criminals target this area because the Miami Valley is the crossroads of America, according to Keith, with major instates that include 70, 71 and 75.