Police discover credit card skimming at Whittier gas station

Acting on a resident’s 911 call, police arrested three men suspected of credit card skimming at the BP station at Franklin & 3rd, according to the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.

The men from Tampa, Fla. are charged with several counts of identity theft and possession of burglary tools.

According to the criminal complaint:

Police responded to the 911 call Nov. 12 at 2:48 a.m., after the gas station had closed. The caller had watched the suspects open a door on the front of the gas pump, and officers recovered a small yellow drill and two credit card skimming devices installed on the pumps.

The station owner found other pumps with devices connected to the circuit boards of credit card processors as well. The complaint said skimmers at four pumps needed to be manually accessed to copy credit card data, while a fifth pump had a wireless feature to transmit data.

Inside the suspects’ van, police recovered more than 20 debit cards and prepaid credit cards. The cards had been encoded with the stolen identities of Hennepin County residents, and they had been used at local retailers and restaurants.

Investigators spoke to 11 victims, and most said they didn’t know their accounts had been compromised in recent days.

The Minnesota Dept. of Commerce recently announced a statewide crackdown on credit card skimmers. Inspectors have so far discovered 28 skimmers at pumps across the state.

“Credit card skimmers hidden in gas pumps have been a growing problem in other parts of the country,” Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said in a statement. “This case shows it is also an emerging threat to Minnesota consumers. That is why the Commerce Department has made it a priority to inspect gas pumps statewide for skimmers, with our Fraud Bureau pursuing criminal investigations whenever skimmers are found.”

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said he’s seen a pattern of out-of-state suspects traveling to Minnesota and creating dozens of credit cards in others’ names.