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Card payment machine 'skimmer' fraud strikes South Bakersfield supermarket

Surveillance video from Los Reyes Market allegedly shows 3 individuals working as a team to install a skimmer device on their point-of-sale card reader. Thieves use skimmers to steal credit cards.
pos reader at los reyes market
Posted at 9:38 PM, Mar 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-18 01:02:53-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — A store owner in Bakersfield is urging the community to be on the lookout for so-called "skimmer devices" when they're using their credit or debit card after her store was targeted earlier in the week.

A skimmer is a card reader that can be disguised to look like part of the store's POS (point of sale) card reader. These devices are used to collect the information on a credit or debit card, leaving the customer at risk for fraud.

On an otherwise normal Monday afternoon, business at Los Reyes Market in South Bakersfield was clicking along when a customer tried to pay but couldn't get their card to go into the POS reader properly. That's when the cashier knew something was fishy.

Ceci Gonzales, owner of Los Reyes Market, was shocked.

"I didn't know about these devices. I didn't know that this is something that people are doing," said Gonzales.

According to Gonzales, three people came into Los Reyes Market on Monday afternoon and installed a skimmer device on one of their credit card machines. Surveillance video of the incident shows that the alleged fraudsters used what Gonzales calls "distraction tactics" to carry out their plan.

person putting skimmer on card reader
Surveillance video allegedly shows this person placing a skimmer device on a point-of-sale card reader at Los Reyes Market in Bakersfield on Monday, March 13, 2023.

"They distracted one of my cashiers, asked her for something she had to walk away from the register," said Gonzales. "The other two; one waited for the right time and installed the device while the other one was distracting the customers behind them, as well as the cashier behind them that could've potentially seen."

Gonzales tells 23ABC that it was only a matter of time before the cashier became aware of the situation.

"A few customers after that person that placed it on there, when they tried to use the machine, it was doing something weird where she right away knew that that's not normal," said Gonzales. "She turned it around, she checked it, and right away she tried to lift it where if it were to be placed on top, it would come off… and it came off."

Gonzales says that after being notified of the crime, she immediately reported it to the Bakersfield Police Department.

ceci Gonzales
Ceci Gonzales, owner of Los Reyes Market in Bakersfield

"We were able to report it to the police. I am happy to report today the police came. They said two of them have been caught and arrested. There were three, so there is still one out there, and they did say that sometimes they work in rings of several, possibly even up to 20 of them, doing it in many different places," said Gonzales.

Today, Gonzales is encouraging other store owners and staff to be aware of skimmers, and report them to the police as she did.

This goes for anyone whose card information may have been stolen by a skimmer. If you suspect you have been a victim of this type of fraud, contact law enforcement immediately.


According to advisors with Capital One Bank, the FBI says card skimmers like the one used at Los Reyes Market cost banks, businesses, and ordinary people more than a billion dollars a year in fraud. Skimmers can be difficult to spot if you're not paying close attention, but there are a few things you can do before you swipe your card.

First, take a close look at the card reader. It should look intact. If part of the reader looks like it doesn't belong on the unit, if it's a different color, made of a different type of plastic, or not completely secured to the card reader, it may be a skimmer. Some readers, like the ones on gas pumps, have a security seal near the card slot. If this seal is broken, it could mean a skimmer has been installed.

Second, put your hands on the reader. Feel for parts that don't seem to fit together. See if any parts of the reader feel like they can just be lifted off. Remember, if you feel like something is off when you're putting in your card, it could already be too late to protect your information. If you have any doubts, give the card reader a jiggle before you swipe.

Third, look around at any other card readers nearby. If you're at a gas station, look at some of the other pumps and make sure the card reader on yours looks the same. At a grocery or convenience store, find another card reader to compare with yours. If the card reader you're about to use looks different from other readers at that business, don't use it.

Finally, if you do happen to come across a skimmer at a local business, report it immediately to an employee. If you think you may have accidentally used a card reader with a skimmer installed, check your bank records for any unusual activity and report anything suspicious to the police.