ST. GEORGE — The discovery of a bank card skimmer at a Richfield convenience store triggered similar reports from a number of Utah law enforcement agencies, which are seeking the public’s help in identifying the suspects responsible and warning the public to be aware of irregular activity on their bank accounts.
The Richfield City Police Department is investigating a card skimmer that was placed at Maverik Adventure’s First Stop at 295 S. Main Street, but believe the device was recovered before any information was stolen, according to the statement posted on the department’s social media.
ATM skimming involves installing an electronic device on an ATM that extracts information from a bank card’s magnetic strip and records the PIN each time a customer uses the machine. That information can then be used to steal money from the customer’s account or allow scammers to create their own bank cards using the extracted information.
Once the customer inserts their ATM card into the phony reader their account info is swiped and stored either on the device, a small laptop or cell phone, or it can be sent over a wireless connection to the criminals waiting nearby.
The card reader discovered in Richfield was placed on top of the legitimate merchant-installed device located next to the cashier, officers said, which made it more difficult to detect.
Police believe the suspects are “of eastern or European descent” and are not from the area.
Officials recommend you review bank and credit card statements frequently and immediately report suspicious or irregular activity to your financial institution.
Richfield Police notified other stores in the area and provided incident-related information, and no similar incidents have been reported to police as this report publishes.
Photos of the card readers and the suspects issued by the department are included in the photo gallery at the bottom of this report.
Anyone with information that might help police identify possible suspects or provide any other information relating to this type of activity is being asked to contact the Richfield City Police Department at 435-896-8484.
A card reading device was discovered during an arrest in St. George last week. Officers confiscated the device that was being used to read and rewrite financial card information but was not attached to an ATM machine when it was discovered.
No recent activity involving ATM card skimmers has been reported in Washington County, Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse said.
The Cedar City Police Department is not aware of any recent activity involving card skimmers, Sgt. Clint Pollock said, but the department has had prior incidents where the skimmers were placed at various gas pumps “quite a while ago.”
Similarly, no recent activity involving card skimming activity has been reported in Iron County either, Iron County Sheriff Lt. Del Schlosser said.
Crimes involving ATM skimming
ATM skimming is a growing problem that some experts believe costs U.S. banks hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to the FBI.
The devices planted on ATMs are typically made of either plastic or plaster which makes them less detectable by users and are generally installed at any one location for short periods of time and retrieved within a few hours, the FBI says, leading many agents to find these devices attached to the machine “by nothing more than double-sided tape.”
Skimming can involve the use of a hidden camera installed on or near an ATM to record customers’ entry of their PINs, and some even place a phony keypad on top of the factory-installed keypad to record account and password information, similar to what took place in Richfield.
The FBI provided the following tips to avoid becoming a victim of ATM skimming:
- Inspect the ATM, gas pump or credit card reader before using it. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked or damaged, or if you notice scratches or adhesive/tape residue.
- When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
- Try to use an ATM at an inside location because it provides less access for criminals to install skimmers.
- Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas; they are a popular target of skimmers.
- If your card isn’t returned after the transaction or after hitting “cancel,” immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.
This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
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