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It could just be the scariest high-tech crime out there right now. It involves thieves stealing your credit card information without ever touching you, or your wallet — it’s called electronic pick-pocketing, or crowd hacking.

It works like this: If you have a “chipped” credit card — a card with a radio-frequency identification computer chip inside — that chip can be scanned at stores and restaurants, like McDonald’s for example. There are currently 250 million chipped cards in use in the U.S.


But now, high-tech thieves are using much more powerful versions of those scanners, devices they can buy online for under $100 and are using them to steal your credit card information right through the air.

“These thieves can walk by you at a shopping mall and steal your credit card information right out of your purse or wallet from up to 25 feet away, and you won’t even know it,” said Chris Gilpin, with the National Crime Stop Program.

Local 2 Investigates decided to test that technology. With Gilpin’s help, Local 2 watched as Gilpin walked through a very popular Houston shopping mall and captured credit card numbers from 39 people in less than 15 minutes.