New app helping detect credit card skimmers in Butler County

Several cases of credit card thieves using skimming devices to steal unsuspecting customers’ credit card information have affected Butler County.

Now, new technology is being used by the Butler County Auditor’s office to combat the problem.

When a credit card is run through a skimmer, the small device stores the cardholder’s data. Once the credit information is obtained, a thief can sell the information or clone the credit card. All the devices found so far in the county have been located inside fuel pumps.

Auditor Roger Reynolds has been on a mission to thwart criminals who are stealing credit card information and has deployed a large group of inspectors since the problem started to grow in June 2016. They have made weekly skimmer checks of every gas pump at approximately 100 service stations in the county, he said.

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In all, 18 illegal credit card skimming devices have been pulled from Butler County fuel pumps since the inspections started, according to Reynolds.

A new app has been developed that will allow inspectors and residents to detect skimmers at the pumps and ATMs.

“We have tested a new app as businesses have contacted us to test them on our skimmers,” Reynolds said. “The first group of apps we had no luck with, but we have one app that did pick up the skimmers.

“We did a little more work with it and had success. The skimmers are still being found in Ohio. We heard there were four or five of them found (a few) ago in Hamilton County and Northern Kentucky. They are still out there.”

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Tom Kamphaus, of the Auditor’s Office, said the new app is called Skim Plus, and it has been successful in locating skimmers.

“I have had companies send me apps before and they have never worked, but this is the first app that has actually worked,” Kamphaus said. “ The paid version comes with a map so a person can look at a map in the area they are in and if they see any red pinpoints it tells them that a skimmer was found in those locations.”

Right now, the app is only available for use on android devices, and the designers are working on getting it available for Apple devices, according to Kamphaus.

“I use it all the time ever since we received the app. When we go out and do our skimmer checks, I’ll run that scan before I actually open up the pumps and see if picks anything up and it hasn’t yet,” he said. “So far all the pumps have been clean in recent checks, and I believe that the last time we found a skimmer was back in July.”

The Skim Plus app is effective, Kamphaus said, because it has the ability to look for a Bluetooth module that’s commonly used in credit card skimmers.

Criminals put the module on a small circuit board and then plug it into a credit card reader, hidden from sight, which then steals every card number that it reads.

“The guy who developed the Skim Plus app is from Florida, and Florida has a big problem with these skimmers,” Kamphaus said. “Last year, the state found over 500 skimmers. He has worked with law enforcement down there so he can build information for the app. It also works for ATM machines. It will detect a skimmer before you put your card in.”

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