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Sophisticated Skimmer Devices Found Inside Gas Station Pumps

SAINT CLAIR -- Two skimmer devices were found inside the pumps at a gas station in Schuylkill County. The sophisticated devices were able to steal PIN numbers from debit cards without the appearance of the pump being tampered with. St. Clair police are working with the FBI and secret service.

"I wouldn't have even been aware that this device was placed on the pump," said St. Clair Police Chief William Dempsey.

Dempsey says it was unlike anything the police department has ever seen before. Two skimmer devices were found inside pump 2 and pump 8 at the Exxon Mobile on Route 61 in St. Clair.

"I always get gas at pump number 2, always the same one," said victim Marina Terwilliger. Terwilliger is from Hegins, Pennsylvania, but works in St. Clair. She says four of her coworkers were also victims. She was back at the gas station again Wednesday but using cash.

About 40 victims have come forward so far, all who have swiped their debit cards at one of those two pumps in the last two weeks at the gas station in Schuylkill County.

"I feel panic. I feel violated because you know someone has your information and you don't know how far they'll get away with it," Terwilliger said.

Police say they believe the criminals may have taken a master key to open the pump and get inside. The criminals replaced the cable inside with one that had an information storage device on it. Police say it is more sophisticated than anything else they have ever seen.

"Typically a skimmer would be placed on the outside of a gas pump or the outside of an ATM machine," Chief Dempsey said.

He explained it would have taken a brief amount of time to replace the cable once the pump was open, and the pump would not have looked tampered with.

"Customer knowledge or customer awareness would not play a role in this," Chief Dempsey said.

"I'm scared to death to use my credit card any place. I looked at it. I always look and it was not obvious that there was a reader on that," Terwilliger said.

Several of the victims are customers at CACL Federal Credit Union in Pottsville. Employees there were able to help St. Clair police track down where exactly the information was stolen once they noticed a trend. They had a message for their customers and everyone else.

"Vigilance, vigilance on your own bank account. We suggest for people to look at their accounts every single day," said CACL Chief Operation Officer Francesco Mercuri.

Police are in the process of looking through surveillance, but they believe the criminals could have placed the skimmer devices months ago and had them lay dormant. They do have one suspicious vehicle on camera in the parking lot after hours.

5 comments

  • davey

    Schuylkill county is always picked on! The big cities dump their raw sewage there, the prisoners and the illegals find there way there. Dont forget the ugly windmills all over the place! now the scammers find pay-dirt there!

    • Bill

      If that were true they wouldn’t be thieves. I doubt they’re settling for less for the love of thievery.

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