Skimming a crime Lt. Tyson Pogue never thought he'd fall victim to. He said, “At gas stations I'm really vigilant about the card readers. I never noticed anything. If it would have been obvious, I definitely would have noticed it. It's hard to catch.”
Skimmers are hard to catch. They copy credit and debit card information. Thieves then put that information onto another card and rack up thousands in charges. The most recent skimming operation in Madera County happened at the 22 Mile House on Highway 41. Pogue used his credit and debit cards at the gas station, in December. Next thing he knew, both his cards had been compromised.
“I got a phone call from my bank Christmas Eve, they asked me if I was in Las Vegas. Obviously I was not. I learned that my credit card had been compromised and someone was using it at a CVS store,” said Pogue.
Just three weeks later, Pogue found out his other card was used in Southern California to buy hundreds of dollars in gas.
“It's shocking, you don't realize it. It's a lot of work to deal with,” said Pogue.
Lt. Pogue is just one of 15 victims whose cards were compromised after pumping at the 22 Mile House gas station. Detectives say the latest skimming operation happened in November and December of last year and there could be more victims.
“It’s identical from what we're seeing. They'll go in and they'll drop one of these machines on a gas pump for about a week or so,” explained Anderson.
Anderson said thieves have racked up thousands of charges and withdrawls. So far, detectives have traced charges to Las Vegas and Southern California.
“With the electronic system they have, if they want to steal from you, they probably can. It's that simple,” said Anderson.
This is the second time in just four months, credit card skimming has hit Madera County. Anderson said the last incident happened at a gas station in Ranchos on Avenue 12. Anderson believes both skimming operations were likely committed by the same culprits.
To protect yourself, officials recommend you pay in cash, instead of a card when pumping gas. They say it's also safer to pay inside the gas station rather than at the pumps. Authorities also recommend you regularly check your credit card statements for unauthorized charges.