Crime

Texas men found with skimmer devices used at gas pumps, Harrison County sheriff says

Eduardo Javier Fernandez Echarte and Jose Carlos Rodriguez-Mederos
Eduardo Javier Fernandez Echarte and Jose Carlos Rodriguez-Mederos Harrison County Sheriff's Department

Two Texas men were driving near Pass Christian when a traffic stop revealed items that indicate they’ve been stealing credit card information at gas pumps, an official said.

They were off the beaten path and up to no good, said Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson.

The men, both from Houston, had a master gas pump key, three credit-card skimming devices, 13 credit cards and gift cards and three counterfeit blank-faced credit cards, Peterson said.

Master gas pump keys, available for purchase online, are often used by thieves to unlock gas pumps and install skimmer devices with ease.

Skimmer devices, smaller than thumb-drives, are wired and rigged to fit the inside of a gas pump. They are used to steal your credit card information, your name and to gain access to your financial accounts.

Deputies pulled the men over at 8:52 a.m. Sunday at Firetower Road and East Dubuisson Road. The rural area is north of Interstate 10 in the DeLisle community.

The 2005 Volvo station wagon they were traveling in had improper equipment and a temporary Florida tag, Peterson said. The men gave conflicting information, and deputies found the items in a search of the vehicle, he said.

Deputies arrested Jose Carlos Rodriguez-Mederos, 23, and Eduardo Javier Fernandez Echarte, 35, on one count each of unlawful use of scanning devices and possession of counterfeit instruments.

Justice Court Judge Melvin Ray set bonds for each at a total of $100,000. Both were being held at the Harrison County jail.

Rodriquez is held with no bond for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the jail docket shows.

Investigators are checking with area gas stations to see if security seals on their gas pumps have been broken, or if they’ve noticed suspicious activity, Peterson said.

Anyone who notices discrepancies on their bank account should call their financial institution.

Robin Fitzgerald, 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews

Eric Vitale, fraud investigation specialist with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, demonstrates how to spot a card skimmer on an ATM, gas pump or other card reader. He also offers advice for keeping your PIN and card information safe.

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