CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A new center created in partnership with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) and the Smith County District Attorney's Office has found success, according to a press release from TDLR.
The Texas Financial Crimes Intelligence Center (FCIC) has prevented $48,493,324 in monetary losses from fraud in Texas and recovered 396 credit card skimmers in its first year alone.
Residents like Jimmy Lara said that's why he remains cautious filling up at the pump.
“I have come here before and I check the scanners, try removing it but it’s not removable. It just depends on what location, what state, what town this is happening in the United States,” said Lara.
The FCIC, a first-of-its-kind center that officially opened in Tyler in January 2022, serves to coordinate law enforcement investigations into organized financial fraud. was created by House Bill 2106 in the 87th texas Legislature with a total two-year budget of $2,650,000.
“The FCIC’s performance in its first year is remarkable," TDLR executive director Mike Arismendez Jr. said. "The staff has shown the importance and value of having an intelligence center that concentrates specifically on financial crimes in Texas. As more law enforcement agencies and financial institutions partner with the FCIC, Texas businesses and residents will be safer."
Aside from gas pump skimming, the FCIC has recorded fraud from other types of credit card skimming committed by foreign nationals, including ATM and point-of-sale skimming that targets state benefit cards.
2022 FCIC Operational Results
|Total amount of loss prevented or recovered||$48,493,324|
|Multi-jurisdictional cases coordinated||91|
|Skimmers recovered by TDLR||396|
|Intelligence products distributed to law enforcement||472|
|Intelligence products distributed to private industry||213|
|Credit cards recovered||1,629|
|Skimmers recovered with information provided by financial institutions||79|
“The FCIC has put Texas at the forefront of financial crime investigation in the nation. It is the first of its kind and has already proven to be successful for law enforcement and all Texans," Smith County criminal district attorney Jacob Putman said. " Their continued work will prevent millions of dollars in fraud, promote a safe environment for Texas banks and businesses, and deter those who would exploit others from coming to Texas.”
In 2022, FCIC investigators saw several significant changes in the ways that criminals approached gas pump card skimming, such as conducting the scams out of state, in less populated areas or targeting high-flow diesel pumps.
Lara is worried North Padre Island could be next.
“But mostly it happens in smaller towns like tourist spots. It can happen here,” said Lara.
Similarly, TDLR regulates motor fuel metering, quality and collects consumer complaints and merchant reports related to credit card skimmers. The Smith County DA has been investigated criminals engaging in credit card fraud via gasoline pump skimmers.
In Corpus Christi, Bobby Hernandez said he's heard of people who have fallen victim to credit card skimming, giving him even more reason to pay with cash only.
“I do use my credit card in any way. I don’t use it in gas or anything. I’ll go get money out of the bank and do it that way,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez suggests paying cash at the gas station to avoid swiping your card.
The Exxon on North Padre Island, the owner tells Action 10 News he replaced the pumps 4 months ago. Now customers can tag and go instead of swiping.