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As Americans hit the road for summer vacation season, many will visit an ATM expecting quick and easy access to their cash. Yet that convenience makes ATMs an easy, year-round target for fraudsters looking to steal your money.
Romanian citizen Ilie Sitariu, 37, and a co-conspirator who has since fled the United States did just that in 2015. From August through October, the Romanians traveled along the I-87 corridor in the Albany, New York area, going from bank to bank and secretly installing skimming equipment on ATMs—often at night, when their nefarious activities could go unnoticed.
Skimming typically requires two devices to be installed on an ATM or other card reader: one piece skims, or captures, data from a card’s magnetic stripe, while an accompanying pinhole camera captures cardholders’ PINs as they’re entered. While Sitariu’s devices were considered relatively primitive—two simple pieces of metal with a skimmer hidden in one and a camera hidden in the other—they were sophisticated enough to do damage. (Some skimming devices incorporate Bluetooth technology, so criminals can access the information remotely without having to return to the ATMs and remove the devices.)