Featured News 2011 White Collar Crooks: ATM Skimmers

White Collar Crooks: ATM Skimmers

Experts say that we should be seeing a lot of ATM skimming in the years to come. In fact on November of 2011 in New York there was a report that police finally caught ATM skimmers who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars. How do white collar crooks access this viable information? It all starts with finding the right ATM machine and time of night to run the scam. Criminals will rarely set up fraudulent practices with an ATM in a lobby as they have to look for the right type of technology to get the numbers needed to access your bank account. Debit cards have a magnetic strip that gives vital information. One expert said that criminals are testing the strength of the magnetic strip and until better solutions come out, consumers will see more theft. While there have been many variations with the same premise, it usually starts with finding a plate to fit over the entrance of the ATM card slot. The fake plate then reads the important information on the magnetic stip. Next, there is a hidden camera which records the PIN number that is entered by the unsuspecting victim.

It's been reported that in the scheme there is no one person who is targeted; anyone who has a bank account is susceptible. Sometimes ATM skimmers will glue down the plate to the card entrance. This is a telltale warning sign; if the criminal is ever sloppy and leaves behind glue residue, you should immediately leave and find another machine. Sometimes, they even stick the plates on with double sided tape since the scam only takes a couple of hours. Also, another sign includes something foreign sitting on or around the ATM machine. In an article by New York Times, they site literature, a pack of cigarettes, and a can of soda as possible hiding places for a camera. Another tip that is given is to block your PIN from the view of the camera (most likely positioned above the machine). At best, it will block a curious person who may be looking at your PIN behind you if not a professional scammer.

Also there are times when the plate doesn't fit on the ATM, which could possibly be an indicator of a scam. Another way that criminals vary this type of a crime is by using fake keypads, letting the banker punch in their PIN while the key pad records it. White collar criminals might even put a sticker on the machine which says something like "scan here first." If there is ever a sticker that reads something similar to that phrase, it might be safer to leave and find another ATM. It's also important to note that it is important for the criminal to get the right paint for the face plating; a normal paint isn't sold in stores. Since there are many skilled white collar criminals, it is unlikely that the paint would be a sign as to his whereabouts.

In fall of 2010, there were two brothers from Bulgaria who used information from stolen bank accounts – it turned out that they had stolen money from two different banks and had gotten away with over $1 million dollars. They had stolen information from New York ATM's using a camera which allowed them to record the bank customer's PIN numbers. Some credible sources believe that ATM skimming costs US banks hundreds to millions of dollars every year. Authority wise, according to the FBI, there are times when the jurisdiction lines are not clear. Sometimes the case is the secret services' and other times it is the FBI's. There are also times when they both collaborate and work on the same case. Statistically speaking though, FBI sites that white collar ATM skimmers tend to be Europeans and ATM machines are not their only target. Typically speaking, gas pumps are also a prime location for white collar heists. Therefore, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings so that you're not a victim of ATM skimmers.

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