By Mary O’KEEFE
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s have made one arrest concerning “skimmer” activity at an ATM at a La Crescenta U.S. Bank.
“We had a call concerning suspicious activity,” said Lt. Edwards, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, CV Station.
The call came in about 1 p.m. on Friday. When deputies arrived at the U.S. Bank at 2649 Foothill Blvd. 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.
The suspect, a 33-year-old Oakland man, was one of two men who had been witnessed near the ATM machine at the bank.
The witness reported seeing the men standing on the sidewalk near the front door of the bank, one on the east side and one on the west. The witness reported the incident and a bank employee went outside to the ATM. She recognized the camera and card receiver did not seem to be normal.
According to a CV Sheriff’s report, the witness reported seeing two men near the ATM at about 9:15 a.m. A surveillance video showed the suspect walking up to the ATM with something in his hands just at 12 a.m., staying for about a minute, and then walking away. It appeared the suspect attached the skimmer device onto the ATM.
Sheriffs were able to arrest one suspect but the second man is still outstanding.
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 advised. “[They should] change their passwords.”
The suspects may be part of a larger “crew” that is suspected to have attached skimmers on U.S. Banks throughout California.
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 cellphone 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. There have also been instances when, 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 are 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.
The suspect who was arrested is described as a male, black, 25 to 30 years old, 6’3” tall, weighing 170 pounds. The suspect still outstanding is described as 25 to 30 years old, 6’2” tall, wearing 190 pounds and at the time of the incident was wearing a dark grey jersey shirt, black pants and white shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact CV Sheriff’s Station, (818) 248-3464.