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Mass. Inspectors Look For Skimming Devices Inside Gas Pumps

BOSTON (CBS) -- State inspectors have launched a new push to investigate "skimming" from gas pumps at local service stations.

Thieves have been installing hidden devices inside the pumps to read credit and debit card data from unsuspecting customers.

Inspector Mike Ryan with the Division of Standards says thieves are easily getting a hold of a universal key to quickly unlock the pumps and insert a strip with wireless Bluetooth technology.

"They can drive out of the station and then park around the corner and pull credit card information from it," said Ryan.

Officials believe it's a sophisticated ring moving from state to state, with Massachusetts a new target.

Pumps have been tampered with in several communities including Westwood and Hingham, while thieves have also installed card reading devices on ATM machines at some convenience stores.

Skimming device inside gas pump (WBZ-TV)

"It seems to be at stations off busy highways or stations that might close at night," said Ryan. "They can come by very easily and install one of these devices very quickly."

Investigators are trying to determine who is behind the "skimming" that Ryan says has been seen in California, Florida and now Massachusetts.

He says a case has also been reported in New Hampshire.

Ryan says he's trying to inspect pumps at about a dozen stations a day, while trying to educate station managers and consumers about what to look for.

Many stations are now using special tape on pumps that if broken warns customers the pump has been tampered with.

Some customers admit they don't know what to look for and quickly insert their cards for the convenience.

"I have to keep an eye on my account statements if I'm not going to check it," said Craig Lawler pumping gas at a Gulf station in Allston.

Customer Sean Pearson says it's a good reason to use cash. "You get a better deal anyway."

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