The 2018 National Conference on Weights and Measures
(NCWM) Interim Meeting provided technical presentations on
credit card skimmer fraud.
A sign-up sheet at registration quickly filled for a field trip
alongside Florida officials to inspect fuel dispensers at retailers in
More than 60 attendees hit the streets of St. Pete Beach.
I tagged along with six others led by James Freeborn, an
inspector supervisor with the Florida Department of Agriculture
and Consumer Services. My group, consisting of regulators
from Missouri and Mississippi and Tom McGee of
PMP Corp., visited several convenience stores and a
At each location, Freeborn identified himself
to the attendants on duty and explained we were
making a spot check for credit card skimmers. Some
clerks were surprised, but most welcomed us and
hoped we didn’t find anything. One station gave
Freeborn an access key; the others used generic
Freeborn opened each dispenser cabinet and
checked for unusual hardware. He said he always
looks for loose wires and daubs of silicone sealant,
telltale signs of skimmer thieves, and he gives card
swipers special attention because he often finds
additional printed circuit boards. These “daughterboards” are
convincingly authentic-looking, and most people would notice
them only when comparing them side by side to the original
equipment manufacturer units. Freeborn cautioned against
running one’s fingers along wiring bundles that disappear into
blind cavities. He’s found razorblades inside, he said.
At one station, we found an unusual card reader that didn’t
match the other 11 dispensers. Freeborn reported it to the
attendant and suggested he ask a tech about it. Otherwise, we
came up empty-handed, conflicted to feel relieved or elated.