Michigan residents are being warned to beware of a huge ATM skimming operation where thieves use a false card slot that is affixed to the machine, disguised to look like legitimate ATM equipment. That slot reads card numbers and transfers the information wirelessly to the criminals who are usually sitting in a nearby car. The scammers, at the same time, use a hidden wireless camera that allows them to watch as ATM users enter their PIN numbers. They make duplicate card and then go to your account and use your PIN number to take money out.
According to reports from news media and police agencies, thieves have been placing skimming devices on ATMs on the east side of Michigan in recent weeks to steal more than $500,000 from the bank accounts of unsuspecting customers. The color and material of the device look just like the real ATM. The scammers withdraw money from victims' bank accounts, usually smaller amounts to hit or stay under the maximum daily withdrawal limit set at many banks. The U.S. Secret Service estimates more than $1 billion is lost annually to skimming.
The Secret Service and 16 police agencies are working together on the case. Police have not released the names of the banks and credit unions where the crimes occurred. On Monday, police released images of five men they believe are involved and asked for the public's help in identifying them. Anyone with information is asked to call the Oakland County Sheriff's Office at 248-858-4950 or Crime Stoppers at 800-SPEAKUP (800-773-2587). Anyone who notices unauthorized withdrawals should contact their financial institution.
Advice to Consumers to Protect Themselves From ATM Skimmers:
• Inspect ATMs, gas pumps and credit card readers before using them.
• When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
• Check your bank statements regularly and report any discrepancies to the financial institution.
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