Drivers who pay at the pump for gas beware

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Santa Fe police are investigating a massive fraud cause where someone was getting the tools to rip people off while they were filling up at the pump.

Detectives said crooks have gotten their hands on the account information of hundreds of people.

Police said more than 600 Del Norte Credit Union customers alone were hit. A Del Norte representative told detectives the link is a Giant gas station on Sawmill road off of Saint Francis and I-25.

Santa Fe Police Spokesperson Celina Westervelt said detectives believe the criminals possibly did it right under the victims’ noses. They think he may have used a device known as a skimmer.

“Crooks can use that skimmer and put it right over where you use that gas pump and they’re able to obtain all of your personal information,” she said.

Skimmers read account numbers and the pin or zip code used to activate it. Police aren’t sure what kind of skimmer was used. They don’t know if it stored the information and the crooks picked it up or if the device sent it electronically.

Police said fraudulent charges have already been racked up on 17 accounts. Westervelt said one victim is a Santa Fe police officer.

“His wife actually banks at Los Alamos Credit Union,” Westervelt said. “They were taken for a $1,000 on that charge.”

Police worry the number of victims will rise before a suspect is caught.

“Scammers don’t usually target just one gas station or just one bank. They do it through multiple areas of the city,” Westervelt said. “If you think about how much traffic a gas station has within a day – it could be thousands.”

Police don’t know if the crook or crooks are from Santa Fe but said the fraudulent charges were made in Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev.

KRQE News 13 called Western Refining, who owns the Giant gas station, for comment but they didn’t get back to us.

Police are encouraging drivers to pay inside until they figure out who’s behind the crime.

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