Skimmer scam thwarted by diligent gas station employees

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Police in Longboat Key say the video of suspects installing gas stations skimmers is some of the clearest they've ever seen.

And if it wasn't for workers at the gas station, hundreds of people could have had their information and money stolen.

Police say these alleged crooks were so diligent, they even used tape to match the color of the existing hardware to try and fool customers who tried to see if the pump had been tampered with.

But the gas station attendants were diligent, too. And with their high-end cameras the suspect’s couldn’t have imagined just how clear their faces could be seen.

Armed with a drill, the video shows them rip the security tape off the nuts and bolts and open the door to reveal the Mobil gas station pump's inner workings.

"The security video, you can almost tell the time on the man's watch," Longboat Key Police Lt. Robert Bourque said.

After only 90 seconds, they had installed a tiny computer chip designed to steal credit card data. They even replaced the old security tape with real Mobil tape.

Their planning was still no match for the gas station’s cameras and employees.

"Fortunately, this gas station checks those gas pumps every night. They check it every morning. They discovered it first thing in the morning and we do not believe there were any credit cards that were compromised," Lt. Bourque said.

Not all gas stations are as willing and able to be this thorough, so police told us how to look out for your own security.

First, they say you can buy a prepaid fuel card – keeping your bank information out of the equation and keeping thieves from being able to use your money outside of that business.

If you’re using your bank card, officers say you should choose the credit option, instead of debit. Running your card as credit keeps your pin number secure.

Police say the only foolproof way to stop skimming scammers is to go inside and pay before pumping your gas.

Longboat Key police believe this particular pair travels all night, hitting gas stations with their sneaky skimmer, hoping to get away with at least one batch of credit card data.

Police say crooks like these often steal credit card numbers to buy gas that they illegally then sell to truck drivers for 50 cents a gallon.