Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How I Got My ATM Card Skimmed


On Sunday June 27th, 2010 at around 2:00pm I took out $200 dollars from my local branch ATM.  Little did I know that this ATM had been compromised and was fashioned with an ATM skimmer. The compromised ATM was within the bank and wasn’t your normal outdoor ATM unit. After using the ATM, my card information and pin number were successfully stolen and I was completely unaware of the theft. I left the ATM with my $200 dollars without thinking twice.
Monday June 28th, 2010 at around 6:00pm I received a call from my bank’s fraud department asking if I had made 2 withdrawals in Manhattan within the past 24 hours for a total of $600 dollars. I told the analyst on the phone that I hadn’t been in Manhattan that weekend, and to please put a hold on my card. The analyst then explained to me that my card had been compromised and that they were cancelling the card. She explained to me that I would have to go down to a local branch and receive a new one. At this point she started the process of refunding my account and gave me a case and telephone number to follow up with in the morning.
Tuesday June 29th, 2010 at around 10:00am I called the number the fraud analyst gave me and spoke with the fraud department again. I explained what happened and they refunded me the money that was stolen. They then asked me a few questions on what I was doing that weekend and if I’d like to press charges or file a police report if needed; I told them that I would. After getting off the phone I went directly to my local branch to get a new debt card, not knowing that this was the site of the compromised ATM. When I arrived I spoke with the bank manager and told her what had happened. She asked me if I had used their ATM over the weekend, and after I told her I did she told me to take a seat in the lobby with a few other people that also had their cards compromised. I was the 7th user that morning that they were dealing with regarding their compromised ATM. She explained to me that they found the skimmer earlier and had removed it from the ATM. I went through the process of creating a new card and pin number on-site at the branch.
Monday January 17th, 2011 I received a letter in the mail from the U.S Department of Justice regarding the 5 defendants, all of Romanian decent, that were in custody regarding my case. This was the first correspondence regarding this case since the day I received my new debt card. The document showed the 5 names of the defendants that were in custody and gave me a case number, court docket number, a victim ID number and a pin. Also on the document were a website www.notify.usdoj.gov and the phone number of the Victim Witness Coordinator. Here you could use the victim ID and pin number to get details regarding court dates, arrests and charges.
After calling the number I was able to determine that only two of the defendants were still in custody with no scheduled court dates assigned to them. The charges being brought against them were as follows: 2 counts of Bank fraud, 1 count of Fraud Related Activity: Identification Documents, and 2 counts of Fraud Related Activity: Access Device. They were arrested on October 27th, 2010, exactly four months after skimming my card. 
A few things I learned from this experience are  never trust an ATM or device that you have to insert your card and pin number into. Cyber thieves are making such slick devices now that you won't even notice the skimmers. Many times criminals have replaced hardware or implanted devices into ATMs or gas pumps, some with cellular technology included (http://www.frontlinesentinel.com/2011/01/ultimate-post-about-atm-skimmers.html). This doesn't leave the consumer a chance, so don't be embarrassed. Also it seems like the banks are getting much more aggressive about catching the bad guys, which is a good thing, but the bad guys always seem to be one step ahead. For now.

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