'Skimmer' devices found on card readers inside 2 Champaign gas stations

'Skimmer' devices found on card readers inside 2 Champaign gas stations

CHAMPAIGN — Police are hopeful that few people, if any, may have had their credit- or debit-card accounts compromised by "skimmers" found Wednesday on card readers at two gas stations.

"I'm hoping because we got these devices and they weren't on long, that we won't have many compromises," said Sgt. Dennis Baltzell.

Police were alerted Wednesday morning by the Mach 1 gas station at 902 W. Bloomington Road and Wednesday afternoon by the Circle K gas station at 1301 S. Mattis Ave. that employees had discovered the devices on readers at their counters.

Mach 1 employees then found surveillance video of the two men they think worked in tandem to put them on.

"In each location, the suspects are seen shopping and then approach the cash register to cash out. At that time, one subject distracts the store attendant while the other places the skimming device over the credit/debit card processor," a police department release said.

Baltzell said flimsy double-sided tape used to attach the skimmers to the machine gave out and they fell off, which alerted the employees.

"They popped off the legitimate slider piece and they put theirs in its place," Baltzell explained.

He said most of the reports police have received in the past of skimming devices involve the kind put on gas pumps, not inside stores, as these were.

Baltzell said as of Friday, the department had not received any reports from people who had their debit or credit accounts used fraudulently because of the skimmers.

He urged folks who went inside the Circle K between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 1:50 p.m. Wednesday or the Mach 1 between 9:10 p.m. Tuesday and 10:15 a.m. Wednesday to check their accounts and get in touch with their credit-card companies if they notice unauthorized purchases. If so, they are also asked to call Champaign police.

Baltzell said police are still trying to figure out if the skimmers were the type that would have required the thieves to retrieve them before being able to download the stolen data or if they could merely have gotten close enough to them to use a Bluetooth device to download the information.

Baltzell advised those who use credit or debit cards to consider more secure payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay, because even the seemingly more secure readers for credit cards with chips have been defeated with skimmer devices.

"It's not a matter of if. Everyone is going to get compromised at some point," Baltzell said of the thieves who are usually able to defeat the latest security measures. "We are all susceptible.

"My suggestion is, if you go to a store and use the (credit-card reader) devices, look at them and inspect them, and alert the cashier if it doesn't look right. Or pay with Apple or Google Pay."

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