Jefferson County deputies warn of skimming at gas station pumps

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- Deputies in Jefferson County are looking for suspects accused of stealing identities through gas pumps. Perpetrators manipulate the inside of gas pump credit card machines, according to investigators.

Recently targeted gas stations include locations near Littleton. Gas station clerks said the criminal practice is common throughout the Denver area.

More thieves are using skimmers to prey on those who enjoy the convenience of paying at the pump.

Jefferson County sheriff's investigators said several skimmers have been found recently inside various gas station pumps along West Ken Caryl and West Chatfield Avenues on the county's south side.

"We haven't seen any damage on any of the pumps," investigator Mike Taplin said. "At this point, I think they're picking the locks to get into it."

After the perpetrators receive a credit card number from a skimmer, they create a credit card clone and start shopping, according to Taplin.

Still pictures from surveillance video, released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, show who deputies are after.

To avoid trouble, experts advise consumers to look for unbroken tape on gas pump credit card machines.

The tape serves as a seal that many gas stations use to deter skimming. If the seal is broken, don't use it and tell a clerk.

Whether at the gas pump or an ATM, customers can also check for other signs for tampering near the screen or the keyboard or the card reader.

Different colors or materials can indicate the machine has been tampered with. Experts also advise wiggling the card reader to ensure it doesn't have any loose parts that could indicate a skimmer.

To avoid taking the risk of using a skimmer at a gas station, authorities recommend paying inside the store and not at the pump.