LOVELAND, Ohio -- Two more credit card skimmers have turned up in the Tri-State, both on the eastern side of Hamilton County.
Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes reports one skimmer was at a Shell gas station on Loveland-Madeira Road; another was across the street at a Circle K.
Rhodes said thieves can install skimmers on a gas pump in about two minutes, and they're hard to see. In this case, Rhodes said, drivers were lucky the skimmers were found quickly.
"In this case here, we checked these stations three days ago, just before Christmas -- went back again, and found them," he said.
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and Loveland police were investigating, Rhodes reported.
Anyone who suspects a gas pump has been tampered with can call 513-946-4112.
Multiple Ohio counties have seen a spike in credit card skimmers lately, including Warren and Butler counties.
Frank Applegate, an investigator with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, speculated that organized crime rings may be behind the rash of skimmers.
The investigation seems to have revealed "a pattern with a group of Cubans that have been hitting the Ohio area as well as Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky," Applegate told the Journal-News, a WCPO media partner.
Once a skimmer is installed, the thieves can commit electronic identity theft by getting a hold of their victims' banking and credit card information.
While paying cash is the only sure way to protect from identity fraud, there are steps that can be taken. Customers are encouraged to use gas pumps easily in view of the attendant and to never use a debit card when purchasing gas.