You might think that the best way to fight card skimmers would be hunt them down and destroy them. But police in California have been leaving the skimmers right where they are — after they have fitted GPS trackers to them, that is.
Krebs on Security reports that the California police department has been fighting criminals by finding card skimmers — in this on gas pumps — then fitting small GPS tracking devices to them. Card skimming crooks invariably return to the scene, o grab their precious card details by physically removing the hardware. By tracing the signal from the GPS device, though, the police can now follow the crooks all the way home, as it pings its location every 6 seconds.
After a spate of skimming calls, cops in Redlands, California, decided that it was uneconomical to monitor all the gas pumps they were concerned about — hence the GPS decision. Early the morning after the GPS device was first fitted to a skimmer, the police were alerted to motion form the tracker — seeing it move at 50mph down a highway away from the gas station. Eventually the police caught up with the criminals, finding several more devices that tied them to a larger organised crime ring.
Of course, some more advanced skimmers — those which allow details stored on the device to be garnered wireless instead of direct from hardware — may not be susceptible to such techniques. But for now, it’s an innovative way to catch crooks in the act of an increasingly lucrative crime. [Krebs on Security]