STAND YOUR GROUND: ATM skimming - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Andy Wise


Identity thieves are now installing fake face plates with hidden card skimmers right on the faces of your banks' ATM's.

And we were worried about waiters and waitresses at restaurants (See our debit card cloning story:

U.S. Secret Service Agent Rick Harlow wants the public to know about this trick because he says it is happening more often in the Mid-South.

He and Patricia Windland, vice president of electronic banking for First Horizon, say the crooks also install digital video cameras on banks' proprietary equipment.  They make the cameras look like brochure boxes or molding.

"What that does is it records the person punching in their PIN number," says Harlow.

Last fall, Secret Service agents arrested Gabriel Cirlan, a Romanian national, age unknown.  Federal court documents say Cirlan operated an ATM skimming ring out of a hotel room at the Holiday Inn Select, 2240 Democrat Rd., near Memphis International Airport. 

The documents say Cirlan built, programmed and stored fake face plates with skimmers as well as disguised digital cameras in the hotel room.  He temporarily installed the devices on bank ATM's at undisclosed locations, skimming as many as 26 victims' card and PIN numbers.

Cirlan's in federal custody, charged with debit card fraud.

Windland says to beat this scam, savvy banks are starting to use what she calls "dip readers" -- sliders where the consumer quickly slides his/her card in, then out.  The device never holds on to the card.  Dip readers are extended; they stick out instead of laying flat.

"So you can't lay anything flat against it (like a fake face plate with a skimmer)," she says.

She also recommends consumers be observant.  See if something's changed or added at the ATM's you use all the time.  If the ATM you use has a flat card reader, check to see if the face plate is loose or shaky.  If it is, don't use it.  Report it to your bank.


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