Consumer Alert: 300+ credit cards compromised at Pasco County Hess gas station

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. - The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is warning drivers about a credit card skimming scandal at a Wesley Chapel gas station that may actually span five Tampa Bay area counties.

According to a release, the sheriff says 337 credit cards have been compromised at the Hess gas station at 28232 SR-54.

Investigators believe the cards were compromised on Thursday, Friday or Saturday of last week.

Internal card skimmers were found on two pumps, which means they could not be seen by customers.

"These are inside the gas pump itself. So the person that put these on had to have a key to open the pump," said Pasco Det. Bruce Cohen. "This is the kind of scam that's difficult to protect yourself from because you can't tell if a machine has been tampered with at all."

The Sheriff's Office is advising people to check their card statement for fraudulent charges.

Renier and Melissa Quintana discovered they both had been victimized. The couple fills up at that Wesley Chapel gas station at least once a week.  "It's very scary," Melissa Quintana said. "I just got a text message alert from Bank of America letting me know that they suspended use on my debit card."

Detectives believe they are the same skimmers detected already at Hess stations in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and Hernando counties.

"These kind of credit card rings are very mobile. They can hit one place, then another and be wherever they want to be. If you can't catch them in the act, or catch them while it's happening, or get good enough video or a tag number, it's very hard to find them," Cohen said.

Investigators are working leads from a photo that captured two men in a teal blue truck with chrome fixtures.

"I am freaked out. I'm concerned about my bank account right now," said customer Neil Pomerenke.

ABC Action News reached out to Hess' corporate offices about the skimming scam and spokesman Denny Moynihan released the following statement:

"It's an issue we take seriously. We're cooperating with local law enforcement authorities and have taken additional steps to safeguard our pumps."

Detectives recommend always using cash to buy gas. However, if you must use a card they recommend going inside to pay.

This case remains under investigation. The Secret Service has stepped in to help.

If you see any suspicious activity on your card statement, you should report it to your bank immediately. The Sheriff's Office is also asking people with information to call 727-844-7711 or click the TIPS tab on their website, www.pascosheriff.org .

 

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