WHAS11 Investigation: ATM scam steals $1B per year with skimmers


by Anna Prendergast


We use them all the time and most of us consider ATMs to be safe.

But everyday hundreds of thousands of dollars are stolen from people and their personal information taken seconds after they swipe their cards.

It's called ATM skimming and a WHAS11 investigation found more ways thieves have come up to rip you off at the ATM.

ATM skimming is responsible for $1 billion loss a year, $300,000 a day from victims just wanting to pull some cash out.

Now there's a new ATM scam that costs the criminal nothing.  All they need is a piece of x-ray film.

You may only need $20 bucks when you visit an ATM but that $20 could cost you thousands and ruin your credit with one swipe of your debit card.

ATM skimming is something you probably wouldn't even notice.  The thief places a skimmer over the original ATM card slot, most of the time the plastic matches perfectly making it hard to detect.

The skimmer copies all the information off your card and usually a camera is also attached by the crooks waiting to capture your pin code.

Brett Johnson with the FBI says the more advance criminals will wait 6 months to empty your bank account so you can't trace it back to one particular ATM. Once they get your bank card information they can make a clone of your card. With your pin number it makes it easy at that point to pretty much do anything with your money.

Johnson said, “They can buy the equipment necessary to clone your card on the internet.”

He says the theif will, “fold it in half and simply cut two little notches in the film.  The x-ray film is inserted into the debit card into the ATM machine.”

Surveillance pictures given to us by the FBI of the new scam show a man trying to with-draw money. He puts his card in but can't get it out because someone has inserted x-ray film.

In another picture, a man walks in saying he's there to help.   He tells the victim to enter his pin code while he holds down a button and his card will come back out. Of course it doesn't and the card owner walks away.  The crook then removes the x-ray film and the card pops out. He's got the victims card and pin code.

“Within a matter of seconds after that customer leaves the bank all their money will be gone,” said Johnson.

Here's some tips: When you’re at an ATM put your hand over the key pad when entering your pin; Go to the same ATM if you can so you know what it looks like and can tell if something isn't right; and If your card gets stuck go right into the nearest branch tell them.