A pair of crooks in Oklahoma made more than $400,000 with a whisper-thin gas-pump credit-card skimmer that they installed in Wal-Mart gas stations, using rental cars while they were doing the installation. Kevin Konstantinov and Elvin Alisuretove allegedly harvested their skimmers every two months or so, creating bogus credit cards with the data and then withdrawing cash at ATMs or sharing it with crooks in Russia and the former USSR. Brian Krebs details the technology, as well as a series of next-gen gas-pump skimmers that use tiny, unobtrusive Bluetooth bugs to harvest credit-card data.
Pump skimmers can be fairly cheap to assemble. The generic gas pump card acceptance device pictured left in the image above (Panasonic ZU-1870MA6t2) can be purchased for about $74. The pump skimmer scammers must love this model: It almost looks like it’s designed to hold additional electronics.
Investigators say the individuals responsible for these pump scams are able to ply their trade because a great many pumps can be opened with a handful of master keys. In the end, it comes down to a cost decision by the filling station owners: This story from Fox News about a rash of pump skimmers discovered earlier this month in Minnesota that it costs filling stations about $450 to re-key eight pumps.
If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it’s not in use.
Lured by the internet’s pervasive insistence that it represents a superior, more comfortable typing experience, I recently went back to an old-timey mechanical keyboard. This was a mistake. I am now a hamfisted ASCII jazz disaster.
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