Fifth-Third Bank customers on Liberty Avenue in Vermilion fell victim Saturday night to an ATM fraud.
Bank security officers called police after finding strange items on the front of a card reader. At first glance the device appeared to be part of the machine, but officers quickly recognized it as a scam device, Vermilion police said.
The device contained card-scanner electrons, which capture an account holder’s information from the card’s magnetic strip when a customer makes a regular withdrawal. Officers also found a video recording device along the trim work of the ATM; the camera recorded through a pin-size hole pointing down towards the keypad.
Police collected the items as evidence.
Because police now have the device, anyone who used the ATM shouldn’t have to worry about their account information being compromised, said Vermilion police Capt. Mike Reinheimer.
“Everyone should still check their accounts for weird transactions,” he said. “The suspects didn’t come back to retrieve it, so they don’t have the information.”
The criminals, dubbed “card skimmers,” normally place multiple devices around a city in one day. They usually stay at a local hotel, then retrieve the devices the next day, according to police.
The thieves may also drive rental cars or use stolen license plates as they head out to retrieve the devices.
Police checked other Vermilion banks for scanning devices Saturday but found nothing.
After alerting other departments about the scammers, Elyria police said they also found a similar device Sunday on an ATM.
Officers hope footage from the skimmer may even show images of the perpetrators who put the scanner up on the ATM, Reinheimer said.
The case will be turned over to the U.S. Secret Service, which investigates financial crimes.
“They probably already know who these guys are,” Vermilion police Chief Chris Hartung said.
(By HANNAH MINGUS, Special to the Register)