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Harker Heights police say card skimmers are found each week across CTX

Police: Card skimmers discovered each week
Posted at 5:51 PM, Apr 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-04 19:22:02-04

KILLEEN, TX — Police said finding credit card skimmers have become a weekly event across our area, and some Central Texans have learned the dangers of card skimmers the hard way.

What was supposed to be a quick visit to the pump for Nicole Botkin quickly turned into much more.

"I paid at the pump like I always do didn't think to check for a skimmer. A couple hours later, Navy Federal had texted me, asked me if I withdrew $200 from the 7/11," said Botkin.

When she replied "no," her bank had a new message for her.

"They called me back letting me know that somebody had withdrew $200 from my account. I guess they had made several attempts to do so and on the final attempt they were successful, so they had taken my money from the pump and made a fake debit card and used that," said Botkin.

According to the Harker Heights Police Department, she is just one of many who have been robbed at the pump.

"I would say we hear about card skimmers weekly. They're very popular with some of our criminal elements. Travis County, Williamson County, all the way up Bell County, all I-35 and even some remote areas," shared Phil Gadd, Chief of Police of the Harker Heights Police Department.

So how does this all work?

"It's very easy. A lot of the components can be purchased online," said Chief Gadd.

The team showed us footage from an ATM to demonstrate exactly how easy it was for one thief to install a skimmer.

"So after the guy puts it on the machine, any time you slide your ATM card in, the ATM machine is going to read it but the ATM skimmer is also going to read it," explained Lt. Gerry Dugger with the Harker Heights Police - Organized Crime Unit.

And they even install cameras.

"And it hangs on the machine and looks like part of the equipment, but underneath it is a pinhole camera," said Lt. Dugger. "Now this camera is really high resolution. It's 1080px but it's also got an extremely high frame rate. So they hang it where it is in view of the reader and the pin pad. And when you swipe your card, it has such a high frame rate that you can go back and pause and actually read the numbers off the card. But most importantly, you can watch after a person inserts their card, you can watch them actually punch their pin number."

Here are some tips for looking for skimmers:

  1. Shake the card reader and make sure it does not move.
  2. Look for cameras that seem out of place.
  3. Cover your hand when you enter your pin number.
  4. If you are at a gas station, each pump has a security seal that should not be broken.
  5. When in doubt, pay inside.

"I usually pay inside with cash for my gas and I just monitor my bank account very closely," added Botkin.

We did reach out to the 7/11 at 620 S Fort Hood Street in Killeen, where Botkin said she lost that $200, and they assured us there are currently no skimmers at any of their pumps.