WASHINGTON — Police are warning those who have used an Exxon Mobil near Potomac Mills in Woodbridge, Virginia, earlier this month to check their bank statements.
Last weekend, Prince William County police say an “internal skimmer device” was found inside a pump at the Exxon Mobil gas station on Worth Avenue, which sets this skimmer device apart from ones that most people might be familiar with.
“We’ve heard a lot in the past about the external ones that kind of fit over the credit card reader on the outside of the device that kind of mimic what the real device looks like,” Jonathan Perok with Prince William County police said. “This one is kind of what we refer to as an internal one that hooks up actually inside the pump.”
This internal skimmer “looks like a bunch of wires,” Perok said, and would’ve been difficult to spot since it hooks up to the pump on the inside.
And since most pumps need a key to get into it, police are investigating how someone would have accessed the inside since the pump did not have damage to suggest it was forced open, Perok said.
“Really, the only way you could tell that it had been tampered with is the security seal on the outside was damaged. And most people don’t really go to look for that when they’re pumping gas,” he added.
Perok had several suggestions for people at the pump:
- Try not to use debit card because of the “direct link to real money.”
- Try to use cash, which he says is the preferred way.
- If you don’t have cash, use a credit card.
- Check the exterior of the pump. Do a little tug on the slot reader area. “It takes five seconds.”
- Check for the security seal on the door that goes into pump; look for a sticker such as the one pictured below.
Perok is warning those who have bought gas there from July 2 to July 7 — even those who’ve used the gas station toward the end of June or anytime in July — to monitor their bank accounts and be vigilant about fraudulent charges.
“Sometimes, it will take suspects weeks or months to actually start using the information that they’re obtaining,” he said.
Perok also recommends getting a new card, especially for debit card users.
With this internal skimmer, Perok noted, “I think we’re seeing a transition.” He says since people are more aware of external skimmers, scammers could be changing their methods.
“They’re trying to alter what they do in order to continue basically stealing fraudulent information from people to get money and funds and information,” Perok said.
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.