Unsuccessful scammers

Identity thieves put skimmers at a local gas station pump

By Kim Sorenson, News Editor
Just about every car owner uses gas stations, and a lot of people pay at the pump with a credit
card for their gas. On Feb. 4 an inspector with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and
Rural Development, Joseph Daugherty, noticed signs of tampering on a self-service pump at the
Shell station on the corner of Plymouth Road and Levan, red flags were immediately raised.
It was discovered that credit card readers, or skimmers, had been inserted into the pump. These
devices can be inserted quickly and discretely by attaching them to the existing wiring inside the
pump. Each credit card swiped at the pump are recorded and stored in the skimmer. Identity
thieves can retrieve them at any time, and there is no way to know how long the skimmers have
been collecting information.
“It copies your information,” Jennifer Holton, communications director for the state Department
of Agriculture and Rural Development, said to the Livonia Observer, “They use it to counterfeit
the credit card.”
Inspectors also found skimmers at the Mobil station on Ford Road and Hix the next day. There
have been several dozen of the devices found throughout the state in recent months. Inspectors
are visiting gas stations and are on the lookout for the telltale signs of illegal tampering on the
pumps. However, local authorities will not be investigating these incidents because they are
turned over to the United States Secret Service after discovery.
“Just due diligence, you know,” said inspector Joseph Daugherty to 7 Action News, “They’re just
going to have to watch their pumps and keep monitoring them and making sure that nothing’s
been tampered with.”
Gas station owners and employees are on alert and doing all they can to prevent skimmers from
being installed at their pumps. Nonetheless, there is little that stations can do if they aren’t open
all day and night, or lack 24/7 surveillance. Gas stations that have had skimmers discovered, like
the Shell on Plymouth and Levan, are likely much safer than those that have not been in the
news. They have the added benefit of notoriety and exposure that will drive future skimmer
attempts away.
“I don’t know why anyone would be avoiding this station,” said Jim Kettering, a Shell customer,
“this is one of the safest stations now, no one is going to put any skimmers at this station
anymore.”
Anyone who has visited these stations is encouraged to check their financial statements to ensure
that there are no fraudulent charges. It is wise to check this at every station attended, too, since
skimmers can be installed without detection. Be aware of any credit card charges and do not
hesitate to contact the Livonia Police or personal banks with any questionable activity.