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Keith teaches police officers how to identify and investigate skimmers

Keith presented to West Carrollton, Huber Heights and Centerville departments

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    
Date:  August 12, 2016      
Contact: Mike Brill

Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith visited the Huber Heights, West Carrollton and Centerville Police Departments this week to teach officers how to identify gas pump credit card skimming devices and how to respond if one is found.

Keith presented to the three departments at staff meetings.  He focused on the types of suspicious behavior that might indicate that an individual is participating in a skimming crime scheme and the actions that should be taken after a skimmer is found.  He also gave the officers an overview of how the skimmer crime has evolved in Ohio over the past few years and explained why gas pumps have become a popular target for thieves.

Keith says he hopes this knowledge will help the officers if they are alerted to strange behavior at a gas pump.  A patron noticed that kind of suspicious behavior at an Englewood gas pump on Monday, according to Keith.  A man was spotted reaching inside a pump as another man stood watch.  The police were called and a would-be identity thief was chased away. 

“I visited these police departments to help protect the community from this crime,” said Keith.  “The local police department is often the first call when someone suspects a skimmer is at a pump. That was certainly true this past week in Englewood, so I wanted to make sure these officers had the information they need to respond effectively.”

Keith also spoke to the Miamisburg Police Department last month and his office presented to the Vandalia Police Department last year.  Keith has not only been promoting skimmer awareness to law enforcement agents, but also to consumers.  This week he gave a presentation on skimmers to the Centerville Rotary Club and spoke about skimmers on a live taping of “Let’s Talk Miamisburg”, the City of Miamisburg’s public news television program.

At least 30 skimming devices have been found in Ohio since 2013, including a skimmer that was found inside a gas pump in Auglaize County last week.  Five have been found in Montgomery County.   

Keith says the frequent discovery of these devices in the area indicates that the threat of this crime will continue, and consumers should be careful when filling up their tanks.

“Consumers should always take the proper measures to protect themselves when they are at the pump, such as by using a credit card rather than a debit card,” said Keith.  “Paying for gas with cash is always the safest option.”

Customers who use their debit cards at the pump risk their PIN numbers being stolen.  Monthly bank and credit card statements should always be reviewed for any fraudulent charges.  Motorists should use pumps near the attendant, as criminals often target far-away pumps.  Anything that seems out of place or indicates that a pump has been tampered with should be reported.

Credit card scamming devices can be used to steal credit card and debit card numbers as well as PIN numbers for the purpose of identity theft.  Additionally, these devices often have Bluetooth technology, which allow identity thieves to access private information from a distance up to 100 yards.

Keith is collaborating with his fellow county auditors to address this illegal activity in Ohio.  He has hosted seven “Skimmer Summits” to raise awareness about the dangers of gas pump skimmers and teach prevention measures to law enforcement agents, gas station owners and interested individuals.  He is planning two more skimmer summits in northwest Ohio next month.