LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said they are recovering a record high number of credit card skimmers in what they’re calling a “feeding frenzy” for personal information.
Tuesday night officers recovered five skimmers from three different gas stations. So far this year, police said they’ve collected 219 skimmers.
In 2014, police only recovered 24.
Michael Gomez is a financial crime detective for Metro police. He said technology has made it easy for criminals to figure out how to crack into gas pumps.
“Most the people who install these don't truly understand. They just know, ‘If I put this here and someone uses it, I get credit card numbers,’" Gomez said.
From one card, criminals can make up to a couple thousand dollars, police said. Each skimmer can hold information from about 40 different credit or debit cards.
Unfortunately for Las Vegan Kevin Fabian, he said his money has been in the wrong hands a few times.
"I woke up one morning with all my money out of my account gone from a guy in Japan," he said.
Fabian said he’s been a victim of skimming identity theft three times and at least one of those times was from a tampered-with gas pump.
Gomez said almost all the skimmers they find in Las Vegas are from gas stations.
According to Gomez, some locations seeing an especially high number of compromises are now having their employees check the pumps for any kind of tampering.
Not all clerks can do this though, so police have tips to stay protected.
Before using a pump, Gomez said to gently pull on the machine, especially the card reader and the hood above the pin pad. If anything’s been tampered with, it will easily come off.
The hood above the pin pad is where criminals will hide tiny cameras to record your pin numbers. While that happens, a fake card reader is taking all information from the swipe.
Cards with chips can help but Gomez said it doesn't fully protect against this.
Gomez said if a skimmer is found, give it to the clerk and call police right away. Additionally, he said to stay up to date on bank statements.
"You'll see tests, like small amounts, like five cents to $1.25," he said. "A few days later you'll see an electronic purchase usually of three to 5,000 dollars or cash advance of some sort."
The best way to avoid credit card fraud all together is with cash.
"Cash is always key."