The illegal act of using a card skimmer to deceptively obtain information from ATM cards has come to Hagerstown now that a Hagerstown Police Department officer found one of the devices at a machine on Garland Groh Boulevard.
The officer, who was credited with having a "very sharp eye," noticed the device when he tried to use the ATM Sunday at M&T Bank at 17724 Garland Groh Boulevard, Hagerstown Police Department officers said.
The officer noticed the card reader on the machine was loosely secured, and it was determined that the skimmer was installed over the original reader with double-sided tape, police said in a news release.
The card skimmer was formed to fit exactly over the ATM's card reader and looks like original equipment, the release said.
The skimmers collect information from customers' ATM cards and are retrieved later, Capt. Mark Holtzman said Monday night. The skimmers can also get PIN numbers from cards, Holtzman said.
Information is downloaded from the skimmers and used to make counterfeit ATM cards, Holtzman said.
Users of ATMs are able to complete their transactions despite the skimmer being attached to the machines, Holtzman said.
"To the person using the ATM, it appears nothing is wrong," Holtzman said.
Police said it appears the skimmer was detected by the officer shortly after it was installed. The ATM's security camera caught images of the man who allegedly put the device on the machine, police said. Only two or three people used the machine after the man placed the skimmer on it, Holtzman said.
Because the skimmer has to be retrieved to use the information, it is believed data from the cards of customers who used the machine had not been transmitted, Holtzman said.
After the skimmer was noticed, police checked other ATMs around the area but found no other skimmers, Holtzman said.
Holtzman said he does not know where people are obtaining the devices, which are illegal. It is obvious there is some sort of "operation" behind their manufacturing, he said.
Banks have systems that help protect customers from becoming victims of such crimes, Holtzman said.
The bank systems can detect any unusual patterns in the use of one's ATM card, he said.
Holtzman said it is important that if anyone gets a message from their bank regarding their ATM card to return the call promptly.
Anyone who has any information regarding the skimmer placed on the Garland Groh Boulevard ATM may call the Hagerstown Police Department at 301-790-3700. Information also can be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.