For some reason, the Sunshine State is a hotbed of federal prosecutions for “skimming”, in which a retail or service worker with a criminal bent swipes your credit card through a pocket-sized magstripe reader when you’re not looking — capturing your name, card number, expiration date and other information.
In the online black market, wholesalers peddle this data to credit card counterfeiters for as much as $50 for a corporate Visa or Mastercard. (Asian and European cards go for even more.) But how much does the poor food service worker get for putting his job on the line in the first place?
A review of the court documents in a few cases [in Florida] shows the money at the bottom of the food chain varies dramatically.
It turns out food service workers can get $7.50 t0 $40 per credit card skimmed.
It isn’t hard to find the technology for credit- or debit-card skimming. Card readers are readily available from stores for a few hundred dollars. In fact, bars and clubs have used off-the-shelf card readers to gather data from customers’ driver’s licenses or ID cards.
In 2007, New York prosecutors charged 13 people with harvesting data from credit cards using skimmers. “[Waiters and waitresses] used small hand-held devices, about the size of a cigarette package that could be kept in a pocket, to record information encoded in the magnetic strips of credit cards.”
Last year, USA Today listed cases in California, Pennsylvania and other states where people were suspected of targeting gas pumps to surreptitiously gather or “skim” data from credit and debit cards.