OCEAN CITY — Ocean City police is investigating at least two cases of theft involving credit and debit card skimmers at gas pumps in two locations, an investigation that extends outside the resort and beyond.
Last Thursday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) detectives began investigating recent reports of credit and debit card theft involving skimmers inserted into the payment mechanism at gas pumps in two locations in the resort that allow suspects to gain access to personal bank account information of unknowing victims. An inspection of gas pumps at two locations, including the Sunoco at 129th Street and the Exxon pumps at Oceans Market on 141st Street revealed technically-advanced skimming devices inserted in the payment mechanism at the pumps.
The OCPD this week is continuing to investigate the credit and debit card skimmer cases along with other allied agencies in the resort area and beyond to determine if the thefts are more widespread than initially believed. The credit and debit card skimming cases are certainly not a new trend and similar cases involving gas pumps and even ATM machines have been reported in and around the area for the last few months. OCPD public information specialist Lindsay Richard said this week some locations are more susceptible than others for the scam.
“Typically, suspects in cases like this will look for older gas pumps at businesses that aren’t open 24 hours a day,” she said. “Older gas pumps tend to have less precautionary measures built into them than the pumps you’ll see at some of the newer gas stations. If the business is poorly lit at night or lacks surveillance cameras, they are even more susceptible to this type of crime.”
Richard said OCPD detectives are relying on the business community’s assistance in the investigation. She urged business owners with gas pumps that accept credit and debit card payments to carefully inspect their equipment and report and suspicious activity to the OCPD or their local law enforcement agency.
“We are asking business owners who own gas pumps to open up their pumps and inspect that everything appears to be in order,” she said. “If it does not, the business owner should not touch anything, close it back up and call their local police department.”
OCPD detectives are also attempting to determine the scope and scale of the cases and are trying to determine how many victims may have had their accounts compromised.
“Any citizens that believe they may be a victim of credit card skimming are asked to contact their local police department as well,” she said. “We don’t want to limit it to Ocean City because this is a widespread investigation that stretches far outside of Ocean City. As far as this particular investigation goes, detectives of our Criminal Investigation Division Major Crimes Unit are diligently working with numerous other agencies and coordinating efforts in this multi-jurisdictional case.”
Any business owner who believes their gas pumps may been compromised, or victims who believe their bank account information may have been accessed, is urged to contact OCPD Detective Nick Simpson at 410-524-5349, or NSimpson@oceancitymd.gov.