Bloomberg Businessweek; December 27, 2013
Retailers, the FBI has a message for you: Watch out for fraudsters armed with aluminum foil climbing on your roofs.
The agency says thieves have used a convoluted scheme to steal electronics and cigarettes from gas stations and other stores in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvannia, and West Virginia.
Here’s how the theft goes down. First, someone climbs onto the roof of a store and uses aluminum foil to block the satellite antenna that the store uses to receive data from credit card companies to authorize sales—a gadget called a feed horn that looks like this.
With the signal blocked, stores can’t validate credit and debit card transactions. That opens the door, so to speak, for bandits to enter the store, load up their carts with electronics or cigarettes, and pay with stolen credit cards. Retailers often permit sales even if the link with the credit card company is down, figuring the transactions will go through once the connection is back up.
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