New ‘Texting’ Skimmers Found

The cellular-powered skimmers are a new variation that sends stolen financial data via text messaging.

February 15, 2019

CHEMUNG COUNTY, N.Y. – Skimmers tucked into gasoline dispensers have been used by criminals for years, but within the past 18 months, a new variation was discovered in upstate New York, WENY-TV reports. In Horseheads, N.Y., law enforcement removed a GSM/cellular powered skimmer from inside a fuel dispenser. The GSM skimmer had been installed like Bluetooth skimmers, but the GSM skimmer can transmit stolen data through text messaging to any number anywhere in the world.

“With cellular capabilities, instead of these skimmers kind of sitting there and storing up to 7,000 numbers and requiring a perpetrator to come back and kind of be in the premise of where the crime has been committed, now that skimmer is just text messaging the credit card numbers in perpetuity,” said FBI Special Agent Marc Smith with the bureau’s Albany, N.Y., division.

Once criminals have credit or debit card data, they usually buy gift cards or money orders. “We were noticing that the stolen card information that was being pulled from skimming devices was being used to purchase U.S. postal money orders, which are purchased at postal facilities and they can be purchased up to $1,000, and that's primarily where those cards were being used,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Joseph Kelly.

This week’s Convenience Matters podcast discusses how retailers can prevent skimming at the pump. Additional guidance and resources on skimming prevention, including Conexxus-hosted webinars, are available at