ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - Deputies in St. Johns and Clay Counties are investigating two fraud cases involving credit card skimmers.
When asked if the two incidents are connected, St. Johns County Sheriff's Office Commander Mulligan said at this point they don't know.
"I would tell you that yes, there are some similarities that we are looking at in surrounding counties. We have not made a hard concrete connection yet but we're working on it," said Mulligan.
The crime in St. Johns County happened on July 26th. Investigators said a man took a victim's skimmed credit card number into a CVS pharmacy on State Road 312 and used the number to purchase two cartons of cigarettes.
At one point, the suspect showed an ID to the CVS clerk which apparently matched the name on the credit card. Investigators believe he skimmed the victim's credit card number and encoded it onto a counterfeit card or an old card with his name on it, or he's using a fake ID.
The suspect used the same card a short time later at Walgreens on U.S. 1 South to make other purchases.
He's described as a black male in his early to mid-20s. He's between 5'10" and 6'2" and weighs between 175 and 190 pounds with medium build and short black hair.
The Clay County crime happened on August 3rd. A sergeant with the Orange County Sheriff's Office contacted the Clay County Sheriff's Office in reference to a report of fraud on his own account.
The transaction took place at Publix on Blanding Blvd. The sergeant said his bank notified him when a $158.33 charge appeared suspicious.
A Publix customer service manager said the suspect made attempts with 4 different cards to make the transaction.
The suspect is described as being in his 20s with short hair, wearing a blue t-shirt, blue jeans and white shoes.
The Clay County Sheriff's Office released surveillance video of the suspect.
News4JAX's Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith said thieves can buy skimmers online for $200 or $300 and they get their money back after their first swipe.
Smith said there are ways to prevent becoming a victim.
"If it looks suspicious or looks different, just shake it. Shake the device as you approach it. If it seems really wobbly, if it starts to come off, don't take it off because the person could be there who owns that device and they may come and attack you. So, if it comes off or is very wobbly, go inside, let the owner know and call police," said Smith.
Another important piece of advice from Smith: Look around a gas station pump or your ATM for anyone suspicious. Often times he says the thief will hang around the spot where they placed the card skimmer so they can watch people run their cards, get a few numbers, and take off.
Anyone with information on the St. Johns County case is urged to call Detective Kevin Greene at 904-209-3988.
Anyone with information on the Clay County case is urged to call the Clay County Sheriff's Office at 904-264-6512.
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