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A New York City man has admitted to being involved in stealing bank account information by installing skimming devices in ATMs. Joel Abel Garcia, a 35-year-old from the Bronx, New York, now faces up to 30 years in prison for attempting bank fraud.
This particular stint has been in the show for a while now. In fact, about 13 people have been charged with scheming against PNC and Bank of America ATMs in New Jersey.
What is ATM Skimming?
ATM skimming is similar to identity theft for debit cards. Hidden electronics steal the personal information stored on the card and record the PIN number to access all the cash in the account.
Garcia was, in fact, a third member of an alleged gang of ATM skimmers to plead guilty. Another member, Victor Hanganu, a Romanian citizen living in NY, was charged with the same offence.
Garcia admitted that “he installed ‘skimming’ devices on the ATMs” belonging to PNC and Bank of America at multiple locations in New Jersey. These include “pinhole cameras that recorded password entries and card-reading devices capable of recording customer information encoded on magnetic strips,” according to the statement.
A Department of Justice spokesperson said in a statement made on behalf of federal prosecutors in New Jersey:
According to admissions made in connection with the pleas, Garcia, Hanganu, and others sought to defraud financial institutions and their customers by illegally obtaining customer account information, including account numbers and personal identification numbers.
ATM skimming rigs are devices that fit over the card slot on ATM machines. The device looks so real there is no way a busy customer can tell if it’s fake. These rigs are made specific to the targeted ATM. Most often they are built using actual replacement parts.
Jefferson Township Police Detective Richard Geib says:
It slides over the top of the reader on the ATM and without knowing it they put their card in and the whole time they’re doing their transactions it’s reading their personal information, their PIN numbers, bank information and transferring it into a memory in that phony skimmer.
The magnetic data extracted by the rigs can then be recorded to a “blank” magnetic card. This card can easily be used with the recorded PIN used with the original card.
Chip and PIN cards based on the EMV smart card standard are issued by US banks in an attempt to thwart such attacks. However, most ATMs still rely on magnetic swipe data, leaving doors open for more such attacks.
Unfortunately, similar incidents continue to plague people as more skimming frauds are dug up every day.
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