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Law Enforcement Agencies Conduct EBT Fraud and Card Skimming Outreach

Published By
U.S. Secret Service Media Relations
Published Date


LAS VEGAS - The U.S. Secret Service, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Nevada State Police, the Clark County School District Police Department, and the Henderson Police Department conducted a payment card skimming and Electronic Benefit Transfer fraud outreach operation in Clark County, Nevada, April 23-25.

Law enforcement personnel visited more than 1,150 businesses to check for and remove illegal skimming devices from ATMs, gas pumps and point-of-sale terminals. Eighteen skimming devices were recovered during the operation preventing an estimated potential loss of $5.4 million. In total, more than 11,600 point-of-sale terminals, gas pumps and ATMs were inspected.

They also distributed educational materials about Electronic Benefit Transfer fraud and skimming to businesses to help them better identify the warning signs of illegal skimming devices in their point-of-sale terminals, gas pumps and ATMs.

This is the first time an outreach operation such as this has been conducted by the U.S. Secret Service and may be used as a model for other areas around the country where EBT fraud and skimming is prevalent.

Criminals steal EBT and other payment card numbers by installing illegal skimming devices on ATMs, gas pumps, and merchant point-of-sale terminals. Criminals use skimming to capture card information from EBT cards and then encode that data onto another card with a magnetic strip, such as a hotel key. It is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year.

Law enforcement agencies have seen a nationwide increase in skimming over the past 18-24 months, particularly targeting EBT cards. EBT fraud targets the nation’s most vulnerable communities. Each month, money is deposited into government assistance accounts intended to help families pay for food and other basic items. This enables criminals who steal card information to time their fraudulent withdrawals and purchases around the monthly deposits. 

There are several precautions consumers can take to protect themselves. 

  • Inspect ATMs, point-of-sale terminals, and other card readers before using. Look for anything loose, crooked, damaged, or scratched. Don't use a card reader if you notice anything unusual. 
  • If you use a debit card at a gas station, run it as a credit card instead of entering a PIN. That way, the PIN is safe, and the money isn’t deducted immediately from your account. If that’s not an option, cover your hand when entering your PIN. Scammers sometimes use tiny pinhole cameras, situated above the keypad area, to record PIN entries. Use ATMs in a well-lit, indoor location, which are less vulnerable targets.
  • Be alert for skimming devices in tourist areas, which are popular targets.
  • Use debit and credit cards with chip technology. In the U.S., there are fewer devices that steal chip data versus magnetic strip data.


Watch the press conference at