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Police: Houston is a "hotbed" of credit card skimming crime

The pair of men were driving in eastern Harris County when a sheriff's deputy began following and watching them. According to an article in the Houston Chronicle, the men had exited Interstate 10 abruptly, and caught the officer's attention.

When they pulled in and out of a gas station without buying anything, he turned his police car lights on. He later wrote in his arrest report that credit cards began flying out of their vehicle. The two were eventually arrested and charged with using credit card skimmers to steal bank account information. In similar cases, people suspected of using skimmers are accused of fraud, credit card abuse, forgery or criminal mischief, the article states.

Their arrests were a small part of more than 100 skimming-related arrests in Texas over the past two years. The Chronicle states that most of those cases involve skimming at gas stations on ATM machines or gas pumps.

"Houston is one of the largest hotbeds for gas-pump skimming in the country," said a spokesperson in the Harris County Sheriff's Office financial crimes unit. "One skimmer can easily compromise millions of dollars worth of data in a week."

Technological advances now allow people to skim the credit card data without actually physically accessing the device after its installation on a pump or ATM. Instead, the data can now be downloaded with a Bluetooth connection, the spokesperson said.

After the data is gathered, a cloned credit or debit card is then created. The cards are then often used to purchase electronics which are then resold or diesel fuel which is then sold to trucking companies or individual truck drivers.

Those facing charges of credit card fraud, ID theft, forgery and related crimes should speak to an attorney experienced in effective white collar defense.

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