Police: Paying at the pump may be gambling

8:19 PM, Jun 15, 2012   |    comments
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  • NEWNAN, Ga -- When Kenny Spurling used his debit card at the RaceTrac gas station in Newnan, he had no idea what was about to happen. Thankfully he's one of those people who monitors his bank account online every day.

    "I checked it one day and I was missing $2,000," he said. "I started looking at the transactions that had been made and there were some from ATMs in New York, and I knew I hadn't been to New York."

    On two separate days there were withdrawals from two separate ATMs in New York. 

    He was not alone, according to Coweta County Sheriff Investigator Jason Fetner. Nearly 100 similar complaints have been filed with the Sheriff's Office. 

    They were victimized by a bluetooth skimming device that was installed in gas pumps, and the worst part is there was no way they could tell.

    Once the skimmers were installed, the suspects could wirelessly monitor gas customers debit card information from a distance using smart phones or laptops using bluetooth.

    "Once the customers information was compromised, it was sent across the nation," according to Investigator Fetner. "From there it gets used to create clone cards, which are essentially exact duplicates of the victims' cards."

    Those clone cards are then used at ATMs. "All they want is cash, and as soon as your account gets flagged or it becomes a hot card, it's in the trash and it's on to the next victim," Fetner said.

    Fetner said the scam is much bigger than Coweta County and that's why the U.S. Secret Service is investigating the crimes. 

    He says it's so big the only way to stop it is for consumers to play a role. "The best practice is to just go inside and pay," he said. "If you don't, you're literally gambling with your money."

    If you don't believe him, ask Kenny Spurling. "Take the extra effort instead of having $2,000 come up missing out of your checking account," he said.

    A RaceTrac spokesperson said the company has taken steps to protect their customers information. "We've installed the newest and most advanced card reader technology on pumps (at the store that was victimized) and all other vulnerable pumps in our system," said the companys Associate Manager of PR Terrica Oglesby.

    Oglesby said those pumps will be double protected and it will now be improbable for customers personal transaction information to fall victim to fraud.

    You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kgrowson

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