DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – Imagine swiping your credit card to buy gas, and the next thing you know, the bank is telling you that you’re the victim of credit card fraud.
Around 1,800 people who used a gas station on the East Coast are experiencing just that.
Investigators told News the financial data of as many as 150 of those victims have been used to purchase thousands in merchandise.
The multi-state card skimming operation unraveled thanks to the interdiction unit with the 23rd Judicial Drug Task Force out of Dickson County.
On April 7, officers stopped a minivan rented out of Florida. The driver, 29-year-old Juan Garcia, was arrested and charged with criminal simulation.
Agents allegedly found thousands in new merchandise from TJ Maxx and Marshals, and seized a skimmer, encoder, laptop, and hundreds of gift cards.
Investigators say those things are building blocks of the credit card scheme affecting hundreds of people, predominately on the East Coast but possibly across the country.
A Dickson County drug officer told News 2 Garcia is responsible for stealing the data of those people. He is accused of using a drill, which was found in his van, to gain access to a gas pump out east.
He then allegedly secretly installed a skimming device inside the pump.
About two weeks later, the 29-year-old from Miami reportedly had the credit card data for 1,800 people across multiple states.
Agents say it’s hard to protect yourself.
You have to look for anomalies, in some cases see if the seal on the gas pump is broken or has been tampered with.
If you see an anomaly, go right inside and tell someone in the store.
The problem is not all pumps are the same; some pumps don’t have stickers and decals, and some skimmers are very small.
The best suggestion is to be vigilant, take a moment to inspect the device and make sure there are no security flaws and the device you are using looks like the other card readers on the other pumps.