Beware at the pump: Black market fuel is making millions

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON Personal Finance Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities across the United States are increasingly trying to combat a black market for fuel stolen with credit card numbers taken from unsuspecting gas station customers.

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Authorities and industry experts say criminals can make $1,000 a day reselling the stolen fuel at construction sites or to truckers looking to cut costs.

The thieves use skimmers to record the data from credit cards people use at the pump. Then they create counterfeit cards and insert one after another into pumps, filling up tanks hidden inside vehicles that can hold up to 500 gallons.

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Florida, Texas and California appear to have the worst problem, but it's caught the attention of authorities in many states, and they're seeking stiffer penalties and tougher laws to combat it.

The U.S. Secret Service investigates financial crimes. It says some of these black market fuel rings have taken in $5 million or more a year.

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