The continues to investigate a credit and debit card scam that originated at gas station, 5 North Baldwin Ave. in Sierra Madre. Police discovered remnants of a "fraud skimmer" inside pump five in December.
Police Chief Larry Giannone said Wednesday that just over $25,000 has been illegally pilfered from victims' accounts, and police have taken 50 identity theft reports since the start of January. Most of the victims are Sierra Madre residents.
Fraud skimmers illegally collect credit and debit card information from customers after they swipe their cards.
The scammers have used victims' info to make purchases mostly at department stores and gas stations in the San Gabriel Valley, though one resident reported an illegal charge at a truck stop in Arizona, according to the SMPD. Most of the charges are between $100 and $400.
Lt. Len Hundshammer of the SMPD said that they are continuing to work with the U.S. Secret Service on this case.
Police discovered evidence of a fraud skimmer on December 27, 2011 after a Valero gas station employee reported vandalism one morning while opening up the station. Police discovered pump five had been tampered with, and it appeared that a fraud skimmer had been removed.
The pumps at Valero have since been inspected and cleared of any suspicious devices, and the station has . Neighboring Alliance gas station has taken , including installing a new video surveillance system, to prevent vandalism.
Anyone who has purchased gas from the Valero Gas Station from December 1, 2011 thru December 27, 2011 and used a debit or credit card at the pumps should check their bank statements and report any misuse or fraud to the Sierra Madre Police Department at (626) 355-1414.