“Glitch” leads Iberia Parish to find Bluetooth card skimmers

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IBERIA PARISH, LA — A card skimming scheme at two Iberia Parish gas stations has the sheriff’s office warning consumers.

The two stores affected at this time are located on Highway 182 and Darnall Road and Highway 86 and Emile Verret Road.
According to the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office (IBSO), the criminal’s methods were more advanced than local deputies had ever seen. This is one you can’t catch even with a careful eye.

“There’s nothing added on to the outside like the external skimmers were. They were basically an add-on that slid over the card reader, and when you slid it through it read it,” explained Lt. Col. Wendell Raborn, chief of staff at IBSO. “These are completely internal. You can’t see them at all.”

The harmful hardware was installed into eight pumps between the two affected gas stations.

Raborn said, “Half the pumps at one station were old and half were new, so I guess that’s what they are looking for are the older pumps that they can get access to.”

Even though pumps were old, new technology is making it easier for criminals to get away with the crime. Once their skimmer is installed, any information can be downloaded over BlueTooth.

“Never have to get out. That’s what makes it very hard. It’s just kinda like a silent thief,” Wendell admitted.

Customers we spoke to said they pay in cash to avoid skimming others are adjusting their habits after hearing of the scam.

“To be on the safe side, I’d rather be on the inside with somebody that I can relate with person to person, instead of just trusting the pump,” one customer told News 10.

Raborn said the skimmers interfered with some but not all of the pumps’ ability to read cards. That’s what caused the gas stations to end card sales at those pumps and call a technician Monday to look inside.

“Be aware of what’s happening,” Raborn warned. “The criminals are trying to take your life away from you one dollar at a time if they can.”

Deputies are encouraging anyone bought gas from either location over the weekend to check their card history online, and alert authorities if you find any fraudulent purchases. That could lead to finding who is responsible.

“Fortunately for us, these interrupted the operation of the machine. If it hadn’t interrupted the operation of the machine, there’s no telling how long it could have collected data. It could have been months.”

Lt. Col. Wendell Raborn, IBSO

If you really want to be sure to avoid an internal card skimmer, the best thing you can do is pre-pay inside. You can use cash or a card in the store without being impacted by a skimmer at the pump.

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