NEWBERRY COUNTY, S.C. — Newberry County deputies busted "an elaborate plot" to steal diesel fuel and credit card information at a local truck stop, according to Newbery County Sheriff Lee Foster.
It all started with the theft of several hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel from the Pilot Travel Center on SC Hwy 773 at I-16 in Prosperity. While deputies were following up on that theft, they saw another theft in process. That's when they uncovered 'an elaborate plot' to steal both fuel and credit card information.
A Newberry County deputy and the truck stop manager were reviewing surveillance video, they saw someone pumping diesel into a pickup truck. As they reviewed the video, they could tell the suspect's vehicle was the same from the previous crime, Foster said.
"I guess the criminal does return to the scene of the crime," Foster said.
The deputy went to arrest the suspect, but the suspect tried to drive off. After a brief confrontation, authorities say the suspect was arrested.
Further investigation showed the suspect was using stolen credit card numbers and forged credit cards to activate the fuel pumps.
Foster said the suspect had "an ingenious mechanism" for stealing the fuel, in addition to using the stolen credit card information.
Authorities say the suspect would pump the fuel into the pickup truck, then a rigged pump on the undercarriage of the truck would transfer the fuel to a bladder in an enclosed trailer.
Foster said the stolen credit card numbers came from a “skimmer” device placed on gas pumps, which can read and record the credit card numbers as the card is placed into a gas pump.
A 20-year-old Florida man was arrested and charged, according to Foster, and investigators are continuing to work with other law enforcement agencies across the state that have seen similar acts of theft.
Foster is warning consumers to always look at the credit card slot on a gas pump or any machine that takes credit/debit cards and is unattended. Most times the skimmer is placed over the credit card orifice and is not firmly secured. It can be easily detected by wiggling the slot before the card is swiped or scanned.
Consumers should review their credit/debit card statements regularly and thoroughly to determine if any charges are made that were not incurred by the cardholder, especially if you purchased fuel in the area.
The statements should outline where the purchases were made and the amount.
If you find an unusual charge, call the credit card company immediately and then report the fraud to local law enforcement.