GPS used to locate a gang using gas pump skimmers

Pierluigi Paganini May 09, 2015

Law enforcement identifies and located suspects members of a criminal organization that used gas pump skimmers, by using the GPS technology.

The number of attacks against ATMs located in supermarkets and Gas pumps is constantly increasing, the crooks use credit and debit card skimmers that use different technologies to steal card data and steal them.

Today I desire to comment with you an interesting case presented by the popular investigator and blogger Brian Krebs, who explained how law enforcement has used GPS technology to track a criminal crew that was targeting gas pumps to steal credit and debit card data.

The phenomenon is very common in the US where many groups of criminals are exploiting electronic equipment specifically designed to secretly attach to gas pumps and steal the precious information.

There are various models of skimmers to steal data from gas pumps, including gas pump skimmer equipped with the Bluetooth technology. In January 2014, US prosecutors have charged 13 members of a criminal gang accused of stealing $2 million from customers,  the gang used a Bluetooth-enabled skimmers hidden inside pump ATMs.

Unlike normal ATM skimmers, skimming devices used to steal card data from gas pumps, are impossible for customers to spot because they are hidden inside the pump mechanism.

Recently, a law enforcement inspected 6,100 gas stations in Florida uncovering skimmers at 81 locations, to see a list of locations where the skimmers were found, click here

The investigation described by Krebs was conducted by the California police department that used a cheap GPS tracking device to follow the movements of the criminals that installed the skimmers. The agents, once discovered the skimmers hidden in the gas pump, have modified it by adding a GPS tracker that allowed them to follow crooks when they returned to remove the skimmer.

One morning last year the Redlands, California police department received a call about a skimming device that was found attached to a local gas pump. This wasn’t the first call of the day about such a discovery, but Redlands police didn’t exactly have time to stake out the compromised pumps. Instead, they attached a specially-made GPS tracking device to the pump skimmer.” wrote Krebs.

pump skimmers credit card Brian Krebs

At around 5 am in the next morning the police tracked the movement of the skimmer device that they have tampered by inserting the GPS module. The police were able to locate and identify the criminals, the gang was in posses of many other similar devices that it was used by the member of the organization.

pump skimmers credit card Brian Krebs 2

The U.S. Justice Department‘s “COPS Office” reported that the operation allowed law enforcement at the Redlands PD to resolve the case, the department used the GPS technology in many other cases to solve other crimes and arrest nearly 139 suspects.

GPS technology allowed law enforcement to arrest suspects committing armed robberies, vehicle burglary, robberies, object theft (i.e. Laptops and bikes) and much more.

This victory for law enforcement is a partial as important success of a difficult war,  in my opinion, it is easy to predict that more advanced group of criminals will foil the GPS used by law enforcement with GPS win of law enforcement is a partial as important success of a difficult war,  in my opinion, it is easy to predict that more advanced group of criminals will foil the GPS used by law enforcement with GPS jamming devices.

Let me close suggesting you to read a very interesting post, titled All About Skimmers, wrote by Brian Krebs about skimmer technologies.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  pump skimmers, cybercrime)

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