Foil used in small business theft scams

Thieves altering credit card validation systems

A new theft scam is targeting small businesses in several states.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations issued a warning this week that criminal enterprises are wrapping aluminum foil around feed horns –- the part of a satellite that capture and transmit signals. 

“The foil blocks the signal, interfering with credit card authorization systems,” said Mollie Halpern, FBI Office of Public Affairs. “The criminals then use stolen credit cards to buy cigarettes and high-value electronics.”

Credit cards used are not actually being validated. Special Agent Vicki Anderson said gas station and retail-store owners are realizing the scam is in place when they remove the blocker on the roof.

Anderson warned small business owners that if credit card systems are down and someone is purchasing something, there could be a block in place. 

The stolen merchandise, typically cigarettes and high-value electronics, are being taken to New York and sold at pawn shops or are exported to Africa.

“The criminals have targeted victims in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Halpern said.

Businesses that may have been targeted are to call local FBI field offices.