Refugio Gas Station Targeted with Skimmers

REFUGIO – Gas prices at the pump may be dropping, but the number of skimming devices targeting gas stations is rising.

A week ago skimmers were found on multiple gas pumps at the Valero gas station on Highway 77 and Empresario in Refugio. The manager, who didn’t wish to be identified, says maintenance started checking the pumps daily for skimmers when he heard of a similar incident involving a malfunction of the ‘pay at the pump’ feature two weeks ago at a gas station in Victoria.

Little to his surprise, the manager of the Refugio gas station says maintenance found two skimmers during a check on Wednesday, March16.

“It’s kind of scary,” said Karla Best, who was stopping by the fill her car’s tank. “Here you are coming to pump gas and next thing you know your identity is being taken away from you.”

Skimmers are electronic devices used to gather your personal information. They come in various forms and are typically placed by an individual into the wiring harness of the gas pump to read any and all credit card transactions at the affected gas pump. At some point, an individual will return and retrieve the skimmer from the pump and download the information to be used to defraud the credit card holder. Some devices can also take pictures of the magnetic strip on the back as you swipe your card.

“It’s easy access,” said Lauri Glover, customer. “It’s located at this intersection, there’s a lot of traffic.”

Refugio Chief of Police Andy Lopez Jr. confirmed in a press release that they were investigating the incident and had seized the skimmers as evidence. At the moment, they are currently trying to gain the identity of the persons who tampered with the gas pumps through surveillance video, which the police station has yet to obtain. The press release further went to suspect the incident could be linked to an organized ring that was recently arrested in Corpus Christi for preying on residents through skimmers.

“The small towns are the ones try to hit because you think nothing’s going to happen here,” said Best. “You know, you just got to wake up and say it could happen anywhere.”

The Valero manager says he continues to check his pumps daily, if not as much as possible. They are say they are assisting police while they investigate the incident.

Police warn customers that this has been an on-going scheme for awhile and a person needs to aware to avoid falling victim to this scheme. If you feel a machine has been possibly tampered with, your best bet is to report it to the manager in charge.

The department is asking for anyone who might have information about this incident to contact the Refugio Police Department at 361-526-4533.