COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) We were the first to warn you about crooks using devices known as "skimmers" and attaching them to the inside of gas station pumps to steal your credit card information.
They've been popping up across southern Colorado.
Now, we've gotten word that Colorado Springs police officers and El Paso County Sheriff's deputies are working to identify and catch one particular group of thieves.
Detectives believe the four pictured above have been using a skimmer to steal credit card information from customers who swipe their cards to pay for gas.
Colorado Springs Police Detective Wayne Lambert with the Financial Crimes Unit says the criminals take the credit card numbers from the skimmer, download them onto a computer, put them into pirated software, and then hook up a reader/writer device.
“Then they will erase the magnetic strip and then place the stolen information into the magnetic strip of the card," Lambert said.
Lambert says once the crooks have loaded the stolen credit card account information onto other credit cards, they start shopping. He says they've been targeting stores in Falcon as well as Colorado Springs. They reportedly call each other on their cell phones to see if the doctored cards work. If they do, they all start spending at once, buying electronics, clothing and liquor.
“So they're a little bit sophisticated in that they're testing the card and immediately making the purchases rather than testing the card, leaving and going somewhere else, and then making a second purchase," Lambert explained.
Detective Lambert says besides getting the crooks on store surveillance, a savvy clerk also managed to get video of their cars: a gray Nissan Sentra and a rented white Chrysler 300.
So far only one of the suspects has been identified, 30-year-old Yoel Yero Garcia, a Hispanic man from Florida. He's reportedly working with these two other white or Hispanic men and a woman who uses the name Malika Krot. She reportedly speaks Spanish with a Cuban accent.
Right now, credit card readers at gas station pumps are only equipped to read the magnetic strips. Chip card readers won't be installed until this fall, so to protect yourself, ask stores what precautions they take. At Kum & Go, the district supervisor says they check their pumps every day. They also use red safety seals that tell you if the machine has been opened. Also, look for newer gas pumps.
“With the new pumps, anything that is about five years or newer, if anything is attached to any of the electronics inside, the pump is going to completely shut down anyway," said Jon Renaud, district supervisor with Kum & Go.
As for this band of crooks, so far they’ve reportedly been able to get away with close to $5,000 worth of merchandise. If you know anything about the suspects or the cars, call Crime Stoppers at 475-STOP. You could earn a cash reward.