JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Two men were arrested after a Madison police officer caught them attaching a skimming device to a gas pump in Ridgeland.
According to Captain Kevin Newman with Madison police, on Friday around 3:10 a.m. a Madison police officer was on patrol when he saw a man acting suspiciously at the Exxon Fuel Station on Highway 51 that was closed for the night.
Captain Newman said, “Over the last several months we’ve had sporadic reports in the metro area of these types of devices at certain gas stations.”
The officer also noticed a vehicle with another man sitting in it near the gas pumps at the gas station.
After detaining the two men, he investigated further and found that one of the fuel pumps had been pried open and an apparent electronic skimming device was attached to the pump.
As other officers arrived, they noticed a pry bar and other burglary tools in the suspects’ vehicle. Both men were arrested and their vehicle was impounded.
The gas station owner came and checked out the other pumps to make sure there were no other skimming devices.
Police identified the two men as 31-year-old Darien Reyes and 32-year-old Alfredo Avila Perez, both from Houston Texas.
Police say technology is making it harder to catch identity thieves.
Kevin Newman said, “These devices, depending on the sophistication of the actual devices that are used, sometimes the perpetrators have to pull up next to it with a bluetooth connection to download the information. Some of the ones more sophisticated actually have SIM cards in them and will actually dial a cell phone and give that information through data.”
To protect your accounts, officers suggest using cash and a pump closest to cameras or a store clerk.
Reyes was charged with unlawful use of a scanning device or re-encoder, possession of burglary tools, and conspiracy to commit a felony. Avila Perez was charged with use of a scanning device or re-encoder, possession of burglary tools, conspiracy to commit a felony and identity theft.
Investigators learned that the gift cards found in the vehicle had stolen credit card information on them.
Both men are being held at the Madison County Detention Center and are waiting on their initial court appearance in Madison Municipal Court.
This is an ongoing investigation and police say more charges are possible. Officers checked all other gas pumps in the City of Madison and no other electronic skimming devices were found.