EL CAJON, Calif. — Buyer beware!
Your next trip to the store could end up making you the victim to two scams hitting San Diego County stores: one involving gift cards and the other involving card readers.
Surveillance video posted on the El Cajon Police Department’s social media shows how quickly criminals are able to set up these card skimmers at a register.
“It’s a big loss, for months in a row, we had 200 victims a month coming into our station to report the crime,” said Sgt. Kevin Reilly of the El Cajon Police Department.
The skimmers record and send your PIN number and the information from the magnetic strip of your card to thieves via bluetooth, stealing your money.
“If something looks bulky, maybe give it a tug or ask your cashier to give it a tug and make sure there’s not a device on it, and then on top of that, also the retailer checking this frequently,” Reilly said.
El Cajon police recovered 12 card skimmers from stores in the past year alone.
“I mean hundred of thousands of dollars in loss over the last year. Just in El Cajon too. It’s happening everywhere as well,” Reilly said.
That’s not all. Officers say sophisticated theft rings are also targeting gift cards.
“And stealing these cards in bulk,” El Cajon Police Officer Amanda Stills said. “They take them home and manipulate the card, write down the card numbers with the PIN numbers associated and then return them to the store for the consumer to purchase.”
Stills held up a tamper gift card and said, “it’s been altered and you can see that the criminal has placed a card over the actual card you’re trying to load and you’re automatically loading his credit card.”
Officers recommend customers double check serial numbers. They also advise paying with chipped cards or tap to pay to prevent letting your money slip away.
“Make sure the number on the card matches the number on the box. If they’re different, there’s a chance, it’s a scam,” Stills said.
Next time you buy your family or co-worker a gift card, it’s best to ask the cashier to load one that has never been put on out on the floor for display to make sure you’re loading the right card and not a criminal’s.