I-TEAM: Tracking Skimmers - Will new technology protect your wallet?

The I-Team has spent the last several months looking into the latest skimmer-detecting technology.

Since the start of our I-Team investigation, skimmers have been found in two locations in the Miami Valley.

Consumer Investigative Reporter Xavier Hershovitz tests the new technology, so you don’t have to and talked with an expert to see if it’s worth it.

Joe Harris is very familiar with just about every gas pump in Montgomery County. He’s the county’s chief weights and measures director.

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“When we’re coming out to check the gas and trying to make sure that the gas pump is pumping accurately,” Harris said.

While that’s the main thing they’re looking for, “The first thing we do is look inside,” he said. “Next thing I’ll do is check the card reader to make sure there are no illegal or foreign devices inside the pump.”

Skimmers were a major issue in 2013, but the county auditor told the I-Team a skimmer hasn’t been found on a gas pump since 2018. However, the I-Team has seen skimmers popping up in the Miami Valley recently.

Kettering Police said they investigated a skimmer put on an ATM earlier this month.

Eduardo Contreras, who along with Felipe Valero, co-owns Electric Cats. He said, “You have a big problem right there and you can avoid it with this kind of device.”

Contreras and Valero are the masterminds behind a device called Hunter Cat. It’s designed to identify devices equipped with a skimmer.

“So, you swipe it, and LEDs will tell you if it’s okay with green. If you need to swipe it again because there was a misreading or something, that’s yellow. And red is there more than one reader,” Contreras said.

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Our sister stations across the country tested out the Hunter Cat device. Hershovitz spent several days testing it at gas stations across Greene, Clark, and Montgomery counties.

Of the five gas stations we tested, we got green lights at three of them and despite repeated tries, got yellow lights at two of them.

Hershovtiz talked with Montgomery County Auditor Karl Keith at a Belmont gas station to test it out with an expert.

The pump that was tested with Keith and an expert is also the same pump Harris opened and checked and there was nothing. But according to Hunter Cat, we should be cautious.

When it comes to keeping skimmers off pumps, Keith says consumers are the first line of defense.

“If you see something or see something out of line, you know, let the station know. Our number is on the pump, and you can call us,” Keith said.

Then, it’s the station and that last line of defense, inspectors just like Harris.