Police suspect credit card scammers hitting area gas pumps
LEBANON, Va. - Authorities in southwest Virginia are investigating a credit card scam they believe has crossed state lines. It started with a skimming investigation at local gas stations, and now Lebanon police believe it's connected to fraudulent gift card purchases at Walmart stores around the region. Nearly a dozen reports have come into Lebanon Police Department of fraudulent credit card purchases. Chief Mark Mitchell says the common trend from victims is a purchase of approximately $100 near the Miami, Fla. area. "Most of the folks have not even made a police report simply because they've been able to coordinate with their bank and have already got the money back in their accounts," Mitchell told News 5. Mitchell said their investigation shows most of the victims used credit cards at gas pumps in town sometime between November and January, but may just now be seeing charges. "We feel like they may be compromising the Wi-Fi connection from the pump into the store," he said. Even one of the officers investigating the crimes became a target. Sgt. James Fletcher said he had taken a call from a victim about a week ago. "The next day my wife's card was declined and contacted the bank and the bank advised, that our account had been hacked as well," Fletcher said. SURVEILLANCE PHOTOS:
Investigators are just now piecing together the latest details Tuesday morning. They believe it is connected to a string of gift card purchases across the region. Police showed us surveillance video of two women loading gift cards at self-checkouts with money from stolen credit card numbers. Mitchell said, "From what we've found so far on this thing is from Wytheville on I-81 to Bristol, Tenn. on I-81 and then back up the 19 corridor from Abingdon up to Bluefield." Now, police are asking everyone in the region to check their bank statements daily, and they recommend paying for gas inside rather than at the pump. Investigators tell us the gift cards have been loaded with more than $2500 in just a few days. They believe the incidents are connected because the SUV seen leaving the Walmart store in Lebanon was leased from a car rental business in Miami, Fla. The vehicle is a 2016 gray Dodge SUV with Virginia plates of VMS 1597. Authorities are asking anyone with information to contact their local police department.