Now the Mountain View (California) Voice reports on the arrest of two men who had installed skimmers INSIDE gasoline pumps at service stations:
Police were initially tipped off on Dec. 6, 2010, when a gas station attendant discovered a small skimmer -- capable of harvesting credit card numbers from unwitting customers -- attached to the circuit board inside a gas pump...This is really quite scary, and undoubtedly more widespread than just California. These guys had stolen 3,600 credit card numbers. As the article notes, the only way a consumer could be guaranteed of safety would be to pay the attendant inside the station.
After searching the duo's van, police found keys that opened the gas pump as well as address information for other stations in the area. An investigation... recovered six identical skimming devices installed at five gas stations...
A specialist in prosecuting high tech crimes, Flattery said it only takes "a matter of seconds" to install the skimming devices, which are made from modified commercial credit card scanners used by retailers. Skimmers record everything needed to produce an exact replica of a credit card.
The ease with which counterfeiters can produce and install the skimmers is exacerbated by the fact that many gas pumps can be opened with the same key, regardless of the brand, Flattery said.
He said this type of scheme is "especially frustrating to consumers," because it is impossible to know from the outside which pumps have been hacked. Law enforcement has to rely on the diligence of individual gas station owners.