AUSTIN June 28, 2018 ⎯ Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office today participated in a fact-finding forum to explore ways Texas can protect gas stations, banks and consumers against credit card skimming.
Criminals use skimmers at gas station pumps to steal personal data from customers’ credit cards, resulting in more than $2 billion a year in fraudulent charges nationwide. A single compromised gas pump can capture data from 30 to 100 cards per day.
Today’s forum in Austin focused on the scope of the problem in Texas, how law enforcement, gas stations and banks can fight back against skimmers, and laws to punish criminals who take advantage of unsuspecting victims. The program featured presentations by officials from the Texas comptroller’s office, Texas Department of Agriculture, attorney general’s office, and local and county law enforcement.
Sergeant Adam Colby and Detective Jeff Roberts of the Tyler PD and North Texas Financial Crimes Task Force described how credit card skimmers first appeared at gas stations in Houston before showing up in East Texas and then spreading across the state.
Last year, Tyler PD and the task force recovered 96 skimmers in Smith County and another 41 in Tyler. They arrested 30 individuals from Houston, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Florida. Most of them were charged with felony one engaging in organized criminal activity.
Smith County Assistant District Attorney Jacob Putnam noted that his office pledged a zero-tolerance policy on card skimmers. Its successful prosecution of cases – most notably, convictions involving prison sentences of 15 and 30 years – sends a powerful message. In fact, no skimmers have turned up in Tyler this year.
The forum involved representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety, banking industry, state legislative offices, retail gas station owners, U.S. Secret Service, and the Texas Food and Fuel Association.