Skimming Gang Stole Thousands From Houston ATMs
Four men stole tens of thousands of dollars from Houston-area automated teller machines using sophisticated ATM-card skimming devices, according to a local television station.
KPRC-TV (Channel 2) reported that the crew tampered with at least six drive-up Chase ATMs in the greater Houston area. They would first spray-paint the ATM's security camera lens, then install a tiny skimming device into the ATM's card slot.
Unlike skimmers of the past, which were mounted onto an ATM's external face, these skimmers were not apparent to the average user.
"A lot of times, they're not visible," Cynthia Marble, a Secret Service agent based in Houston, told Channel 2. "They're getting so sophisticated that it's impossible to tell."
The skimmers recorded a bank customer's card data as it passed through the slot, then fed it wirelessly to a laptop used by members of the gang, who were sitting in a nearby car.
In at least one case, the gang also installed a tiny security camera of their own to film customers entering their PINs.
The accused men allegedly would quickly make duplicate cards, wait until the bank customer had left and then withdraw additional money from the customer's account.
Court documents filed by the Secret Service said the crew had stolen nearly $58,000 in April alone, with one especially lucrative night netting $18,000.
Neither the Secret Service nor Chase disclosed how much money in total was stolen. Chase issued a statement saying bank customers would not be responsible for any losses.
ATM skimming devices can often be bought on the Internet, but in an interesting twist, court papers said this crew used a 3-D printer to manufacture them at one of the suspects' homes.