RICHLAND, Wash. – Richland police were notified of a credit card skimmer found inside a gas pump located at the Shell/Jiffy Lube on the corner of Williams Blvd. and Jadwin Ave., Wednesday around 7:45 a.m.
Multiple reports have already surfaced Thursday, where local victims realized their bank accounts and credit cards have been compromised because of this skimmer.
"The struggle with these skimmers or these devices is they're not always obvious," Lt. Lee said.
Police are now investigating the situation and working to track down the criminals.
"It's a device that's internally inside the machine, that allows you to run your card through it, they capture the information off it," Lee explained.
The stolen information is then transmitted wirelessly to the crooks, who use it either for fraudulent purchases or to manufacture so-called "white-cards" – blanks which debit card data is loaded onto, so they can be used at ATMs to drain cash from victims' accounts.
While paying at the pump can be convenient, police said there are a few things people should be aware of.
"Look to see if there's anything out of place, anything unusual, does it look like the card reader is functioning properly, does it look like it’s been tampered with,” Lee said. “Also people need to be aware of their statements to see if fraudulent charges have occurred and must report those immediately."
Lee has been a victim of skimming himself and he said the only true way to prevent it is to go inside and pay with cash. He said even employees at gas stations have been caught using skimmers to steal credit and debit card information behind the desk.
"And sometimes it takes people awhile to realize they’re a victim," he said.
Lee suggests regularly checking bank and credit card statements for unusual activity.
"I didn't think it would happen here, I mean I saw it on national TV," said Randy Gosseen, a customer of the Shell station in Richland.
However, Gosseen said after learning about the crime he checks card readers for tampering before he swipes.
"You don't want people getting your information, it’s cheap insurance to grab a hold of it, shake it a bit and see if it looks right,” he said. “Can save you a lot of headache.”
Police reports said the device was likely placed in the gas pump anytime between Monday morning, March 13 and Wednesday morning, March 15.
Richland Police Department is asking those who have pumped gas at a Shell/Jiffy Lube gas station to check their bank accounts in case it has been compromised.
Richland police ask that if you see anything suspicious on any gas pump to report it.
The Shell on Williams Blvd. and Jadwin Ave. is the only skimming device they have found at this time. However, police admit these devices are aren’t hard to install.
They want to be notified if other pumps have been hacked.
Anyone with information or a compromised bank account regarding this incident should contact RPD at 509-942-7340.