”…an unscrupulous restaurant waiter with a pocket skimmer might be able to steal information from hundreds of customers a week, selling that information to those with the means to encode fake credit cards. Battery-powered skimmers can be carried in a pocket…copying information as customers swipe cards to pay for gas or withdraw cash…”
The (stolen) information then can be emailed or downloaded over the Internet and rewritten onto any card with a magnetic strip, such as gift cards or hotel keys. While the victim’s credit card is still in his or her possession, someone could be using a perfect replica hundreds of miles away.
The process, called “cloning,” accounts for much of the growth in credit card fraud during the past few years, officials said. According to a Javelin Strategy and Research report, credit card fraud has increased 87 percent since 2010, culminating in aggregate losses of $6 billion nationwide.
Credit card cloning is easy and lucrative, accounting for its popularity, said Sileo, who founded the Web site Thinklikeaspy.com.
People whose cards are skimmed might not know for weeks or months that their information has been stolen. Once someone realizes it, the account usually is closed quickly. Savvy crooks know to rack up major bills just as fast.