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Skimmers found at area gas station

Skimmers were found at an area gas station and authorities believe it may be linked to a much larger investigation.

Jefferson County Captain Gary Higginbotham said two skimmers were discovered Monday morning at a gas station in the 3600 Block of Athena School Rd. in De Soto. The Phillips 66 located just off U.S. 67 on Highway 110 has hundreds of customers each day.

“We haven’t seen anything like this lately, but the St. Louis area has, so we are trying to see if they could be linked to known bad guys that have been in the area,” Higginbotham said. “I do know one was found in Herculaneum, but we didn’t work that one, so I don’t have details.”

Higginbotham said these skimmers are very sophisticated and they are able to read the PIN number used with the card. It is very rare for a skimmer to not just read the code information, but to actually read and record the PIN information of a debit card.

“So this is one of the more sophisticated ones and we are just guessing, but we believe they aren’t locals,” Higginbotham said. “We don’t know for sure, but it is very sophisticated and it’s not usually what we will see localized. These are usually bigger groups and more organized groups that we are seeing.”

Skimmers are devices used to illegally obtain credit card information from unsuspecting users often while paying for their gas at the pump.

Higginbotham explained that according to their tech guy who inspected them, they did not have Bluetooth technology so suspects would have to download the information and personally retrieve the information.

“We are hoping that nobody’s information was taken because they were detected so quickly,” Higginbotham said. “Of course we are still warning people if they utilized that station there, because it was on two different pumps, they should keep an eye on their credit and their statements. But we don’t think they came back to download them after reviewing video.”

Higginbotham said they actually gained access to the machine and installed the skimmers, so it wasn’t a quick slip over thing, it took some time to install them.

“We do have security footage and we are trying to link those to the local ones they already have suspect information on,” Higginbotham said. “So if not, we will probably release some still photos or video of it.”

He added that if anything looks out of the ordinary that doesn’t appear exactly like the other pumps, report it. They can look like just any other card reader, especially the installed ones. Higginbotham stressed it can be really hard to tell on some of them and in some cases there is no way to tell.

“They are getting very sophisticated with these things and it’s getting tougher on us,” Higginbotham said. “All we have seen is the slider ones. This is one where it is a combination of the slider and can identify your keypad code if working correctly.”

If anyone has any information regarding these card skimmers, please contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 636-797-5515.

Skimmers were found on two separate pumps at the Phillips 66 off Athena School Road at U.S. 67 and Highway 110 in De Soto.

Skimmers were found on two separate pumps at the Phillips 66 off Athena School Road at U.S. 67 and Highway 110 in De Soto.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Doug Roberts shows what a skimmer looks like. It can steal a debit card number and PIN when an ATM is used.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Doug Roberts shows what a skimmer looks like. It can steal a debit card number and PIN when an ATM is used.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or rbronaugh@dailyjournalonline.com

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