The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been called in by Minden Police to assist in finding the responsible party that put a skimming device on an ATM machine over the weekend.
Minden Police Chief Steve Cropper says the devices were discovered at Citizens National Bank in Minden and Bossier City.
“This device was placed on an ATM machine at Citizens once before and got removed before it was detected,” he said. “That put them on alert and they were watching their ATM machine really closely.”
The first time Citizens National Bank was hit was in February, Det. Chris Cheatham said, but no one knew about it until after the fact when police began receiving complaints about fraudulent charges that were made.
“They went back and looked at the video and found out someone had placed a skimmer on their machine,” Cheatham said, “but they didn’t get good video of the person.”
He says employees were going by every so often, including the weekend, and on Sunday, April 17, one of these skimming devices was discovered.
Cropper explained the device, what it looks like and how it works.
“It just fits over the card reader, and it’s just like a cover,” he said. “Unless you are paying close attention, you don’t notice it and people just don’t think about it. That reader reads the numbers on the card, and they mounted two cameras on top of the machine. The cameras were facing down instead of facing out, and it was recording people keying in their PIN number.”
When the investigation began, he says Cheatham notified the FBI about the case because it deals with a banking institution. Cheatham says the FBI is cooperating with both Minden and Bossier law enforcement to find the person or persons responsible.
“They are taking the device to their tech people to see if there is anything they can pull from it,” he said. “They are also pulling more video from both banks, and they’ll build a case and see if it can be taken federally.”
He further explained how the device works.
“The card reader records the information off the magnetic strip,” Cheatham said. “That information is used to program a blank card, and then they sell you the blank card and the PIN number. Another thing is if you flip your card over, they can read it from the camera view; flip it right side up, then they have your account number, your security code and your PIN number and they can use it online immediately.”
He says the most common way is for the perpetrator to use a blank card, go to places like Walmart and buy a card to put cash on and use it somewhere else.
“We hear about skimmers and we get victims of these crimes, but to actually have the machine, that’s a first for us,” he said. “That’s why we got the FBI involved in this one.”
An alert has been sent out to all the banks in Minden and surrounding areas, but they have yet to receive any information that others have been compromised, Cheatham said.