Pump skimmers found at Nevada City gas station | TheUnion.com

Pump skimmers found at Nevada City gas station

At least two incidents of debit card fraud have been linked to pump skimmers found at a Nevada City gas station. And there potentially are dozens of victims, police said.

Two reports were made late last week but until Wednesday, it was not clear where the fraud had occurred.

One of the victims, William Scarff, got a call when the fraudster tried to use his information at a Sacramento Walmart.

“The bank alerted me, which was great,” Scarff said. “They caught something that looked suspicious.”

The bank told him someone had tried to use his card to the tune of $850, and asked him to confirm it was a fraudulent charge. The bank then canceled his card and asked him to make a police report, he said.

The other victim reported an attempted fraud in the amount of $980, said Nevada City Police Officer Antonio Virga, adding that Visa gift cards were purchased to launder the money.

On Wednesday, an employee of the Express Mart, at 301 Sacramento St., reported that approximately 30 victims had lost an estimated $30,000, possibly due to a skimmer on the pumps.

“The employee went out of his way to help,” Virga said. “He was very cooperative.”

A technician from Chevron came out Thursday and met with Virga, eventually finding three skimmers installed on two pumps.

Skimmers are a small device used to steal credit card information in an otherwise legitimate credit or debit card transaction. When a credit or debit card is swiped through a skimmer, the device captures and stores all the details stored in the card’s magnetic stripe.

According to Virga, the skimmers found at Express Mart use “rudimentary” technology and are easy to install.

“This type is a downloader,” he said. “They plug it in and then came back and pull it out to download the information.”

The skimmers have been removed and the technician was installing reinforced locks on the pumps, Virga said.

Nevada City Police officers currently are investigating to determine if a suspect can be identified. Virga urged anyone who suspects they have been a victim of identity theft after using the gas station to contact the department at 530-265-4700.

Scarff said he always has appreciated the convenience of paying at the pump.

“From now on, I will use cash,” he said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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