Last month we reported suspicious activity at a Hess station in Brooksville, FL.
Credit card skimmer found at Hess in Brooksville.
Four more Hess stations in neighboring Pasco County (West Central FL) have been found to have credit card skimmers on their pumps and as a result an additional 342 credit card numbers have been obtained illegally. That brings the total number of credit cards that have been 'skimmed' to more than 640... And it may have spread to five FL counties. It's now under investigation by the Secret Service and the Florida Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division.
The Pasco County police say 337 credit cards have been compromised at the Hess gas station at 28232 SR-54. Investigators believe the cards were compromised on Thursday, Friday or Saturday of last week. Internal card skimmers were found on two pumps, which means they could not be seen by customers.
"These are inside the gas pump itself. So the person that put these on had to have a key to open the pump," said Pasco Det. Bruce Cohen. "This is the kind of scam that's difficult to protect yourself from because you can't tell if a machine has been tampered with at all."
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is advising people to check their card statement for fraudulent charges.
Renier and Melissa Quintana discovered they both had been victimized. The couple fills up at that Wesley Chapel gas station at least once a week. "It's very scary," Melissa Quintana said. "I just got a text message alert from Bank of America letting me know that they suspended use on my debit card."
Detectives believe they are the same skimmers detected already at Hess stations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Hernando counties.
Hess spokesman Denny Moynihan released the following statement:
"It's an issue we take seriously. We're cooperating with local law enforcement authorities and have taken additional steps to safeguard our pumps."
Detectives recommend always using cash to buy gas. However, if you must use a card they recommend going inside to pay.
This case remains under investigation. The Secret Service has stepped in to help.
If you see any suspicious activity on your card statement, you should report it to your bank immediately. The Sheriff's Office is also asking people with information to call 727-844-7711 or click the TIPS tab on their website, www.pascosheriff.org.
The problem centers on Hess station because a universal key opens the Hess pumps.