How ATM Skimming Scams Work
(Chicago Tribune) — On the last Sunday in May, federal agents watched as two men dropped off a third near a Citibank branch across the street from Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center in Portage Park. At the bank, the man installed a device on an entrance door that, when patrons swiped their card to enter, recorded their account data. Inside the vestibule, he installed keypads that fit atop the existing pads on three ATMs to capture the PINs customers entered, according to a court filing. Federal authorities allege the three men were part of an Eastern European ring operating in Illinois, New York, California and Florida that has stolen at least $1.5 million. Charges filed under seal in New York allege one member stole almost $550,000 and compromised 639 bank accounts over three months. While a major case involving craft retailer Michaels drew attention to ATM skimming last month, the crime is not new. A Tribune review of federal charging documents filed in Chicago since 2009 shows the range in how such schemes work, from restaurant servers or store clerks getting paid to skim customers’ credit cards to more sophisticated work by overseas groups.