Most of us don't think twice when we swipe our credit card or debit card at our local gas stations. But crooks are using skimmers that are hard to spot - to steal your card number. Then, they go across the country using that number to purchase hundreds of dollars in gift cards as a way to get quick cash to buy what they want.
Edmond Police recovered hundreds of gift cards last week from two men from Florida.
Hubert Lopez Baldoquin, 29, and Hector Castillo-Ortiz, 38, both face multiple felony counts for false making of embossing of a credit or debit card.
The two were caught Thursday, January 21, in the Sam's Club parking lot right off I-35.
Police said an alert loss prevention officer inside the store noticed them trying to use several different cards at the self-checkout area. Police searched them and found multiple gift cards and debit cards in their pockets and even their socks!
“They had an entire stack of cards wrapped in a rubber band,” said Jenny Monroe, a spokesperson with the Edmond Police Department. “And what they would do is just go through and see which one would hit, and make as big a purchase as they could and move on.”
The police report states that inside their truck, officers discovered several more unopened gift cards in the console, and also in a black bag in the back seat that totaled more than $23,000.
Investigators say this is happening more and more often, especially at big chain stores and gas stations along major highways like I-40 and I-35.
“We're finding out a lot of our suspects are coming from Texas and Florida and other states and they are passing through,” said Monroe.
Monroe said along with Baldoquin and Castillo-Ortiz, there were four other men inside the Sam's Club who were able to get away before they arrived. Now the Secret Service is involved trying to find them, while Edmond Police try to identify all the victims who had their credit card numbers swiped without them even knowing.
So how can you protect yourself?
Police say don't use your debit cards to pay at the pump, use a credit card instead, and check your balances daily.
And Edmond Police told News 9 that Baldoquin and Castillo-Ortiz used an unauthorized Sam’s Club Member card that had been deactivated to get into the store, and racked up more than $150,000 of purchases since September.