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Skimming cases on the rise across Mid-South

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OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. -- Surveillance photos show two women, each wearing a tank top, walking out of a Kangaroo gas station in Senatobia, Mississippi.

Police said the suspects shopped with someone else's money - Olive Branch resident, Sarah Cooper.

"What'd they buy?" WREG asked Cooper.

She replied, "Cartons of cigarettes, a bottle of water, just all kinds of stuff."

The police report showed the women hit two gas stations.

Cooper also said, "They went to Dollar General and made three transactions there and it was like $180 something there."

All in all, the suspects wiped more than $300 from Cooper's bank account.

She still had her card, so police told Cooper she's likely the victim of skimming.

Cooper's bank told her it could take up to 10 days to reverse the charges.

"You have to wait to get it back, you have to go through all kinds of different things to get your money back and they got what they wanted with it," she said.

Senatobia Police confirmed they're working a second skimming case.

Oddly enough, one of Cooper's good friends filed a report with Horn Lake Police.

Department officials sent WREG a copy of that report and a surveillance picture taken outside WalMart.

The suspect made off with more than $800 in pre-paid cards, all bought with the victim's skimmed debit card information, on a duplicate card.

"It just makes me sick, you know we work hard, we have to pay our bills and times are hard," said Cooper.

Sergeant Marcus Mitchell is with with the Memphis Police Department Economic Crimes Bureau.

"You have to realize this is what they wake up trying to do every day is be the best criminal they can be."

Mitchell says they're working more and more skimming cases.

Research from FICO showed ATM skimming was up a whopping 546% from 2014 to 2015.

Blame better technology thieves can use to steal at ATMs and gas pumps.

Sgt. Mitchell said while most consumers just want their money back from the bank, calling the police could actually help stop the next person from becoming a victim.

"The more information we have to try to catch some of these suspects, it relies on that video that we're getting from the places that they were actually using those cards," explained Sgt. Mitchell.

Cooper, who finds comfort in her horses, isn't quite as calm these days.

She's still waiting to be reimbursed from the bank, with her daughter's birthday on the way.

Plus, wondering if this incident won't be the last.

"If it's going to happen again, I mean, what are they going to do to protect you from waking up and looking at our bank account and somebody's done wiped it clean?"

Chip technology should help prevent some skimming, but not all retailers are equipped, nor have all banks sent chip cards to customers.

Plus, gas stations have another year to comply.

Protect Yourself from Skimmers

  • Check for tampering at gas stations, ATMs
  • Wiggle equipment
  • Use credit instead of debit
  • Use gas pumps closer to physical building
  • Consider cash instead
  • Use smart phone for payments
  • Cover the pad when inserting PIN
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