NEW YORK CITY – Can a $50 gadget put an end to credit-card skimming? That’s what the New York City Police Department (NYPD) hopes the “Skim Reaper” will accomplish, New York Post reports.
Card skimmers have been plaguing the convenience store industry for years, as thieves find ever more ingenious ways of installing the devices on gas station pumps and ATMs. The U.S. Secret Service estimates that skimmers steal more than a billion dollars annually in the United States.
Earlier this year, the University of Florida professor who invented the Skim Reaper with two grad students provided the NYPD with five of the devices for testing. “I’ve been doing skimming for approximately five years now and I have never used anything like this,” said NYPD Detective James Lilla, who also works with the Financial Crimes Task Force. “It’s definitely an assist we can use to combat ATM skimming.”
The Skim Reaper, which is similar in size to a long credit card, is used to check ATMs and pumps for possible skimmers. A retailer simply inserts the Skim Reaper like a credit card in to the card reader, and the display informs him with the words “possible skimmer!” if a device is detected. The ease of use helps law enforcement investigate financial crimes—and has potential for retailers to keep on top of potential skimmers on pumps and ATMs.