Police Are Beating Card Skimmers With GPS Trackers

Police Are Beating Card Skimmers With GPS Trackers

By Jamie Condliffe on 04 May 2015 at 5:30PM

You might think that the best way to fight card skimmers would be hunt them down and destroy them. But in California, at least, police have been leaving the skimmers right where they are—after they’ve fitted GPS trackers to them, that is.

Krebs on Security reports that the California police department has been fighting criminals by finding card skimmers—in this on petrol pumps—then fitting small GPS tracking devices to them. Card skimming crooks invariably return to the scene, to grab their precious card details by physically removing the hardware. By tracing the signal from the GPS device, though, the police can now follow the crooks all the way home, as it pings its location every six seconds.

After a spate of skimming calls, cops in Redlands, California, decided that it was uneconomical to monitor all the petrol pumps they were concerned about—hence the GPS decision. The morning after the GPS device was first fitted to a skimmer, the police were alerted to motion form the tracker—seeing it move at 50mph down a highway away from the petrol station. Eventually the police caught up with the criminals, finding several more devices that tied them to a larger organised crime ring.

Of course, some more advanced skimmers—those which allow details stored on the device to be garnered wireless instead of direct from hardware—may not be susceptible to such techniques. But for now, it’s an innovative way to catch crooks in the act of an increasingly lucrative crime.

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