ATM Fraud: Skimming Scheme Nets $200,000 in Texas

Word on the street is that ATM skimming is now the most profitable crime, say Houston, Texas police who arrested two men accused of putting a skimming device on a local bank's ATM.

Houston Police Lieutenant Robert Manzo says that John Pierre Griffin and an unidentified man were caught putting the device on an ATM in a bank on the 4300 block of Montrose Boulevard, near the University of St. Thomas on Jan. 19.

This incident is another example of increased ATM-related crimes. Security experts have predicted that ATM fraud will increase in 2010.

Manzo, who works in the police department's financial crimes division, says the police watched as the suspects sat across the street in a black Cadillac Escalade, monitoring the ATM through binoculars. Once they saw customers pull up, the suspects moved in closer and turned on their wireless camera. The camera let them see the customers as they entered their banking PIN into the ATM's keypad.

Manzo says customers can look closely at an ATM machine and often tell if it has been compromised. "The criminal installs a debit card reader on the outside, so your card will go through the suspects' reader first before it makes its way inside the ATM," Manzo says. "You also may see a box above the ATM machine which houses a tiny camera. There might be a pin hole found on the box with the camera lens facing the key pad."

One Houston area bank reports it lost more than $200,000 because of the skimming device, police say.

"We have had suspects tell us that the word among criminals on the street is that skimming is a much more profitable crime to commit, not only because the amount of money they are able to steal very quickly, but also because it is less likely that they will be detected," Manzo says.

About the Author

Linda McGlasson

Linda McGlasson

Managing Editor

Linda McGlasson is a seasoned writer and editor with 20 years of experience in writing for corporations, business publications and newspapers. She has worked in the Financial Services industry for more than 12 years. Most recently Linda headed information security awareness and training and the Computer Incident Response Team for Securities Industry Automation Corporation (SIAC), a subsidiary of the NYSE Group (NYX). As part of her role she developed infosec policy, developed new awareness testing and led the company's incident response team. In the last two years she's been involved with the Financial Services Information Sharing Analysis Center (FS-ISAC), editing its quarterly member newsletter and identifying speakers for member meetings.

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