We're learning more information about a credit card scam operation that began in Navasota. Navasota police say 30-year-old Oelecia Tolivar and 31-year old David Hester are behind what's called a credit card skimming ring. But now, the Secret Service is involved, and it's believed there could be more victims in Washington County.
They're used every day.
Navasota Police Chief Shawn Myatt tells News 3, “We’re living in a world where credit cards are used so freely. But you should be worried because everywhere you swipe them at gas pumps or hotels; those places store your credit card information."
If you've ever swiped your credit or debit card -- then you’ll know what a skimmer might look like.
"Some of them are very small, but now you can even plug them into iPads, phones and a lot of businesses have gone to use them as well,” said Myatt.
It's become a lucrative way for criminals to clean out your bank account -- and it could happen -- right before your eyes. Pocket skimmers are portable and they’re often times used at bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
“They [thieves] have a skimmer and when they are working at these establishments, regular individuals come in and pay for their food using a debit card or credit card. What happens is the credit card is swiped through the skimmer, and then given back to the customer,” said Myatt. “The customers don’t even know that their credit cards have been stolen because they’re still in their wallet.”
Twelve people in Navasota became victims to a skimming operation – and they didn’t even know it – that is until they checked their back account.
Thirty-year-old Oelecia Tolivar and 31-year old David Hester are believed to be behind the operation Police say Tolivar explained how the operation worked.
How Does Skimming Work?
A skimmer, or credit card reader, is a device that contains a slot which a credit card, or debit card magnetic strip slides through. The reader captures the customer's information and stores it. That information is then transferred to a credit card writer. The writer, which is similar and sometimes built into the same machine, then transfers the information onto a blank gift card's magnetic strip, thus capturing the victim's information. The cards, in this case, "Green Dot" cards, can then be used to purchase merchandise.
The case has been turned over to the Secret Service -- and it's now believed more cases have been found in a neighboring county.
"During this we also learned Brenham Wal-Mart had similar type cases that we were able to connect,” said Myatt.
The crime can happen anywhere that accepts plastic, which is why it's crucial to take a closer look at the transactions that are entering and leaving your bank account.
-Watch out for protruding devices attached to the credit card slot on any machine, including ATM's.
-Look out for mirrors or envelope holders to make sure there are no hidden cameras
-Use your hand to cover your pin number when punching it in to the ATM
- Check your bank statements regularly
-Keep your receipts for your purchases
-Talk to your bank about credit card fraud protection plan
The investigation is ongoing.