In a caper seemingly stripped from John Connor’s ATM hacking scene from the movie Terminator 2, a suspected ATM skimmer was captured on video after a failed ploy to rig a cash machine in Los Osos.
According to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department, a man tampered with a Bank of America automatic teller machine located on Los Osos Valley Road in the early morning of Dec. 22. The suspect reportedly attempted to attach a “skimmer” to the ATM’s card reader. Skimmers steal financial information from people who use the machine—if the devices function properly.
- PHOTO COURTESY OF SLO COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT
Fortunately for bank customers, the seeming scam was a bust. The ATM detected tampering and automatically shut down, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release. Meanwhile, the ATM’s security camera was able to capture footage of a suspect.
According to Sheriff’s Department spokesman Rob Bryn, the suspect arrived on a skateboard: “Does that mean he’s local? Perhaps.”
Skimmers have become more prevalent at local ATMs, gas stations, and other places where customers swipe credit and debit cards, according to the department news release.
In January 2011, SLO and Atascadero Police Department officers arrested three suspects accused of installing skimmers on card readers at banks in San Luis Obispo and the North County. The suspects have all pleaded not guilty to charges of burglary and conspiracy to commit a crime. They’re awaiting trial. But other, similar incidents have happened now and then throughout the county.
SLO Lt. Jeff Smith said the most common time for skimming operations is during extended holidays when banks are closed and the “crooks” can install the devices, as well as regularly download information without alerting bank personnel.
If you believe an ATM or other device has been tampered with, alert the business or call a law enforcement agency, Bryn and Smith said. ∆