By Mary O’KEEFE
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s have made one arrest concerning “skimmer ” activity at an ATM at a La Crescenta US Bank.
“We had a call concerning suspicious activity,” said Lt. Edwards, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, CV Station.
The call came in earlier this afternoon. When deputies arrived at the US Bank at 2649 Foothill Boulevard they arrested one suspect and found that the outdoor ATM had a skimmer device attached.
A “skimmer” is an electronic device that can be planted on an ATM that records information as unknowing customers use their cards.
Sheriffs do not know how long the device was operating at the bank, however typically suspects do not keep skimmers in place for very long.
“If anyone has used the bank ATM within the last few days they should check their transactions,” Edwards said. “[They should] change their passwords.”
The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the CV Sheriff’s Station at (818) 248-3464.
According to the FBI, Skimmer devices that are planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users—the makers of this equipment have become very adept at creating them, often from plastic or plaster, so that they blend right into the ATM’s façade. The specific device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phony reader, and their account info is swiped and stored on a small-attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby. In addition, skimming typically involves the use of a hidden camera, installed on or near an ATM, to record customers’ entry of their PINs into the ATM’s keypad. We have also seen instances where, instead of a hidden camera, criminals attach a phony keypad on top of the real keypad…, which records every keystroke as customers punch in their PINs.
Skimming devices are installed for short periods of time—usually just a few hours—so they’re often attached to an ATM by nothing more than double-sided tape. They are then removed by the criminals, who download the stolen account information and encode it onto blank cards. The cards are used to make withdrawals from victims’ accounts at other ATMs.