2018 was either a banner year for skimming criminals or for law enforcement out on the hunt for the devious devices; either one is bad news for you.
“This is a gas pump skimmer, this is exactly the kind of device they find inside gas pumps.”
They come in all forms — the man in the middle attack.
ATM slots with springs to ensure it can read your card and a micro camera that catches your pin.
A research team from the University of Florida thinks they’ve found a solution.
They call it the “Skim Reaper.”
“We spent quite a bit of time actually working with police departments in getting some input on the user interface and making it as simple as possible for them to use.”
Only WESH 2 can show you the final version.
The premise is simple — the thin card can tell if a credit card reader or ATM is recording for a second time.
Up until now, the team says skimming has been relatively low risk and high reward for thieves.
And they can only take a couple seconds to install as this video from Miami Beach shows.
“If you have 10 or 20 or 50 or 100 of these you’re making a substantial amount of money in a very small amount of time.”
And for consumers, how do you know if that sticker at the gas pump — or at the reader is real?
“Before it was well just going in the store and you’ll be fine. It’s looking for the thing that wiggles and you’ll be fine, is that just a myth at this point?
“Yeah, it’s very much a myth, if you’re lucky and the bad guy did a poor job of installing the skimmer, maybe it will fall off.”
Department of Agriculture records shows a 200-percent increase from 2016 – to 2017 in devices found in Florida.
And then an almost doubling of skimmers found in 2018.
Orange, Volusia and Brevard County have the highest numbers here in central Florida.
In fact –Brevard sent out a team before the holidays — and found 18 skimmers in just one day.
“Typically when these are found by law enforcement, they’ll actually just wait until the person comes back to pick it up.”
The UF team hopes the reaper means some safety from skimming.
They’ve already partnered with the NYPD – and law enforcement in Gainesville and now it’s spreading to other Florida counties.
“That partnership will work with Citrus County, and the secret service to bring those devices there to push back or at least stem the tide of skimming.”