As Halloween draws closer, here’s a reminder of what you should really be scared of: ATM skimmers, or devices that attach to cash machines to slurp up customers’ card numbers and PINs. You should also be afraid of adults in creepy baby doll masks. According to police in Minnesota, a recent crime there incorporates both of these terrifying prospects, with a mask-wearing suspect accused of placing skimmers on ATMs in two counties and stealing tens of thousands of dollars.
The team, a man and a woman, only try to disguise themselves in one image released to the public. Police believe that they may have traveled from out of town, and may be part of a larger skimming ring, they told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The skimmer installations were first discovered on Sept. 23 when someone (we don’t know whether it was a customer or an employee) alerted the cops to a skimming device on an exterior ATM at the City County Credit Union.
More devices were found in the following days, but police can’t be sure that they have them all. The local sheriff’s department shared tips that are useful for everyone. The sheriff’s department recommends inspecting ATMs before you begin a transaction.
“If it looks suspicious, don’t use the ATM and go inside the bank,” a sergeant with the sheriff’s department told the Star-Tribune. Alert the bank if you see something on the machine’s exterior that doesn’t look right.
We also recommend sticking to the same few ATMs when you’re at home so you’re more likely to notice parts stuck on or other oddities. It’s also a good idea to poke and pull at pieces of the device, making sure that there isn’t a false front, an extra card reader, or a pinhole camera attached to the front of the machine. Cover your hand while entering your PIN in case there’s a hidden camera.
Skimmers can also be completely invisible, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on your bank statements and immediately report any suspicious transactions.
The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office posted a Tweet with images of the suspects, but it’s the last picture, where the suspect is wearing a creepy cracked baby doll mask while fiddling with a drive-up ATM, that startles the entire Consumerist team every time that we look at it.
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