Alleged thieves find new ways of hiding gas pump skimmers

MONTGOMERY, Texas -- Parvez Ali owns the Exxon gas station in Montgomery, Texas. He said he checks the pumps every morning to make sure nobody has tampered with them.

But this week, police beat him to it when they reported finding crooks in the act.

Ali told Eyewitness News he got a phone call early Monday telling him a group of men had put skimmers on two of his pumps when the store was closed.

"They broke open the special locks that we have on the pumps so nobody can access it," said Ali. "Then they glued it like it was normal. Then they used fake stickers, like security stickers, so nobody can see what happened. "

He showed us what it looked like inside his pumps after the tampering. The thieves, two of whom are in custody, allegedly plugged in a Bluetooth device to try to steal credit card information. Ali said this is the first time he's been hit, and the method was different from what he'd been warned about previously.

"If they pull out all of the credit card information then it comes back to us, and that's not good," he said.
Montgomery police said the two arrested suspects are from Cuba and were in the federal system for deportation. There are three other suspects on the streets, and police wonder if the group could be responsible for other skimming hits in the area.

RELATED: How to spot a skimmer and avoid identity theft
EMBED More News Videos

Learn what to look for to avoid the devices that want to steal your personal information

Montgomery Police Chief Jim Napolitano said the thieves were sophisticated.

"Now they go around to the back side," he explained about how the skimmers are activated. "Plugged in like it was another piece of the apparatus that needs to be in there. All they have to do is drive up, put their phone up there, leave it up there for a minute or two, downloads all of the information and drive on."
So what can you do? If there's no security tape, damaged tape, or tape that doesn't have the gas station brand on it - don't use the pump, and tell the station.

You can also check the Bluetooth settings on your phone, and if an odd-looking device pops up in the menu, don't use the pump. It could indicate a sophisticated skimmer inside it.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.