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<h1 class="sr-only">ATM Skimming</h1>
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<div class="">July 14, 2011</div>
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<h1><strong>Taking a Trip to the ATM?</strong></h1><p class="sub-heading">Beware of
&#8216;Skimmers&#8217;</p>
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<img src="https://www.fbi.gov/image-repository/atm-skimming.png/@@images/image/large" alt="ATM Skimming typically
involves the use of hidden cameras (top) to record customers&#8217; PINs and phony keypads (right) placed over real
keypads to record keystrokes.">
<p class="description">Skimming typically involves the use of hidden cameras (top) to record customers&#8217; PINs
and phony keypads (right) placed over real keypads to record keystrokes.</p>
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<h4 data-mce-style="text-align: left;" style="text-align: left;">Last fall, two brothers from Bulgaria were <a title="Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Bulgarian Man with Using
Stolen Bank Account Information to Defraud Banks of Over $1 Million" href="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2010/nyfo092310a.htm" data-linktype="external"
data-urltype="" data-val="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2010/nyfo092310a.htm"
data-mce-href="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2010/nyfo092310a.htm">charged in U.S. federal court in New York</a> with using stolen bank account
information to defraud two banks of more than $1 million.<br></h4><p>Their scheme involved installing surreptitious surveillance equipment on New York City ATMs that
allowed them to record customers&#8217; account information and PINs, create their own bank cards, and steal from customer accounts.</p><p>What these two did is
called &#8220;ATM skimming&#8221;&#8212;basically placing an electronic device on an ATM that scoops information from a bank card&#8217;s magnetic strip
whenever a customer uses the machine. ATM skimming is a growing criminal activity that some experts believe costs U.S. banks hundreds of millions of dollars
annually.</p><p><strong>How skimming works</strong></p><p>The devices planted on ATMs are usually undetectable by users&#8212;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&#8217;s fa&#231;ade. 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.</p><p>In addition, skimming typically involves the use of a hidden
camera, installed on or near an ATM, to record customers&#8217; entry of their PINs into the ATM&#8217;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.</p><p>Skimming devices
are installed for short periods of time&#8212;usually just a few hours&#8212;so they&#8217;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&#8217; accounts at other ATMs.</p>
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<p style="text-align: center;" data-mce-style="text-align: center;"><strong><img data-val="01f690669b804a659e4ad06b465ce96f" data-scale="large" title="ATM Skimming
Graphic" src="https://www.fbi.gov/image-repository/atm-skimming-graphic.jpg/@@images/2d1c8095-b9f5-46b5-9173-872b51d7800f.jpeg" alt="ATM Skimming Graphic"
data-linktype="image" data-mce-src="../../../../../resolveuid/01f690669b804a659e4ad06b465ce96f/@@images/image/large" class="image-inline"></strong></p><p><strong>How
to Avoid being Skimmed</strong></p><p>- Inspect the ATM, gas pump, or credit card reader before using it&#8230;be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, or
damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.<br>- When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from
recording your number.<br>- If possible, use an ATM at an inside location (less access for criminals to install skimmers).&#160;<br>- Be careful of ATMs in tourist
areas&#8230;they are a popular target of skimmers.<br>- If your card isn&#8217;t returned after the transaction or after hitting &#8220;cancel,&#8221; immediately contact the
financial institution that issued the card.&#160;<br></p>
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<p><strong>Skimming investigations</strong></p><p>Because of its financial jurisdiction, a large number of ATM skimming cases are investigated by the U.S. Secret Service. But through FBI investigative experience, we have learned that ATM skimming is a favorite activity of Eurasian crime groups, so we sometimes investigate skimming&#8212;often partnering with the Secret Service&#8212;as part of larger organized crime
cases.&#160;&#160;</p><p><strong>Some recent case examples:</strong></p><ul style="list-style-type: square;" data-mce-style="list-style-type: square;"><li>In Miami, four Romanians were charged with fraud and identity theft after they made and placed skimming devices on ATMs throughout four Florida counties &#8230; all four men eventually pled guilty. <a title="Debit Card Skimming Group Arrested and Charged with Fraud and Identity Theft"
href="https://www.fbi.gov/miami/press-releases/2009/mm050109.htm" data-linktype="external" data-urltype="" data-val="https://www.fbi.gov/miami/press-releases/2009/mm050109.htm" data-mce-href="https://www.fbi.gov/miami/press-releases/2009/mm050109.htm">More</a></li><li>In Atlanta, two Romanians were charged and pled guilty to being part of a criminal crew that stole account information from nearly 400 bank customers through the use of skimming
equipment they installed on ATMs in the Atlanta metro area. <a title="Two Defendants Plead Guilty in ATM Skimming " href="https://www.fbi.gov/atlanta/press-releases/2009/atl110909.htm" data-linktype="external" data-urltype="" data-val="https://www.fbi.gov/atlanta/press-releases/2009/atl110909.htm" data-mce-href="https://www.fbi.gov/atlanta/press-releases/2009/atl110909.htm">More</a></li><li>In Chicago, a Serbian national was arrested&#8212;and
eventually pled guilty&#8212;for attempting to purchase an ATM skimming device, hoping to steal information from ATM users and loot their bank accounts. <a title="Serbian National Arrested in Fraud Plot" href="https://www.fbi.gov/chicago/press-releases/2010/cg061710.htm" data-linktype="external" data-urltype="" data-val="https://www.fbi.gov/chicago/press-releases/2010/cg061710.htm"
data-mce-href="https://www.fbi.gov/chicago/press-releases/2010/cg061710.htm">More</a></li><li>In New York,&#160;a Bulgarian national referenced at the top of this story was sentenced yesterday&#160;to 21 months in prison for his role in a scheme that used sophisticated skimming devices&#160;on ATMs to steal over $1.8 million from at least 1,400 customer accounts at New York City area banks. <a title="Bulgarian Citizen Sentenced in Manhattan
Federal Court to 21 Months in Prison for Stealing $1.8 Million from Banks Using ATM &#8220;Skimming&#8221; Scheme" href="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2011/bulgarian-citizen-sentenced-in-manhattan-federal-court-to-21-months-in-prison-for-stealing-1.8-million-from-banks-using-atm-201cskimming201d-scheme" data-linktype="external" data-urltype=""
data-val="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2011/bulgarian-citizen-sentenced-in-manhattan-federal-court-to-21-months-in-prison-for-stealing-1.8-million-from-banks-using-atm-201cskimming201d-scheme"
data-mce-href="https://www.fbi.gov/newyork/press-releases/2011/bulgarian-citizen-sentenced-in-manhattan-federal-court-to-21-months-in-prison-for-stealing-1.8-million-from-banks-using-atm-201cskimming201d-scheme">More</a></li></ul><p>One last note: ATMs aren&#8217;t the only target of skimmers&#8212;we&#8217;ve also seen it at gas pumps and other point-of-sale locations where customers swipe their cards and enter their PIN. (See sidebar for
tips on how to avoid being victimized by skimming.)</p>
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