State investigators say foreign mafias are skimming at Texas gas stations

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — State investigators say international criminals are targeting Central Austin as another credit card skimmer turned up in north Austin.  

A CITGO at 1006 East Yager Lane in Austin is the latest gas station to be hit with a credit card skimmer. Officials said thieves continue to target Austin with this type of crime. 

“We are finding a lot of them. We are cracking down on them,” said Sid Miller, the Texas Agriculture Commissioner. “Their technology is getting more sophisticated. We are having to change our techniques. Our skimmer units are out there working daily to protect the Texas consumer. 

Commissioner Miller said this is an attack by international criminals. 

“It’s mainly mafia driven. Foreign mafia groups. Most of them are in Cuba, there’s a small group out of Russia.” 

He said they have the potential to do a lot of harm. 

“I found out they took a road trip,” said Jeremy Gomez who lives in Austin. Gomez said he was targeted by a skimmer two years ago. He ended up losing around $8,000. 

“I’ve learned that it’s better to go in and that’s a rule that everyone should learn,” Gomez said. 

TDA officials said to use the pumps closest to the storefront, look for signs of tampering and pay with cash. Using these tips when filling up can save you in the long run. 

“If people are educated, then a lot of these scams will be a lot harder and people can spend what they earn, and that’s the ultimate goal,” Gomez said.  

If you feel like you’ve been targeted, call the police right away. Local law enforcement will remove the skimmer and handle the criminal investigation. 

Improved security

Card security has improved over the years. Companies integrated a signature panel and card embossing in the 1970’s.

In the mid 80’s, cardholders were finally able to see if their accounts were hacked in real time. PIN security requirements came in the mid 90’s. 

And now cards have chips, banks use geolocation and there are transaction partners like Apple Pay.

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