Better smile the next time you make an ATM withdrawal. You might be on hidden camera!
Three crooked Canadians plead guilty Wednesday to 81 counts of fraud for scoring close to $300,000 from New Yorkers by planting tiny hidden cameras on ATMs around the city to steal debit card information, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office announced.
Skimming schemes are nothing new to the whole wide world of money scams, but that makes them no less disturbing. In this case, the skimmers remained on ATMs for more than five months, giving the crooks access to more than 1,500 accounts.
After nabbing account information from their victims in January, the twisted trio were able to make withdrawals and purchases totaling $264,000 in other states and their native Canada. They had so much fun, they decided to return to New York City for another round a few months later, making off with more than $20,000.
“These defendants traveled to New York from Canada to rip off hundreds of Manhattan residents and visitors who did no more than use ATM machines,” said District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “In order to thwart ATM skimming operations, it is critical not only for law enforcement and financial institutions to take proactive investigative measures, but also to raise awareness among consumers about the practice of ATM skimming.”
Consumers: Consider yourself AWARE.
How it works: Criminals attach skimmers to the card slot along with a hidden camera. The attachment intercepts your debit card numbers by reading the magnetic stripe while the camera makes quick work of recording your PIN number.
How to protect yourself:
Check for dodgy fixtures. Check out the area where you dip your credit card for any foreign objects or something that looks as if it isn’t a permanent part of the machine, the DA’s office says. The skimmer used in this crime was translucent green and about an inch long.
Cover your work. Pretend you don’t want little Reggie Watson cheating on your maths homework when you punch in your PIN. Use one hand to dial the code and the other to cover your entry.