I-TEAM: Thieves target bank ATM, steal thousands using skimmers

A group of thieves targeted a bank ATM over the weekend, secretly using devices called skimmers which allowed them to copy card information and steal thousands.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:54 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A group of thieves targeted a bank ATM over the weekend, secretly using devices called skimmers which allowed them to copy card information and steal thousands of dollars.

One of the victims reached out to the WAFB I-TEAM, showing their bank account which shows $2,000 was swiped in the attack.

”I knew instantly that it had to have been a card skimmer and not somebody just taking my wallet,” said the victim.

The victim in this crime did not want to be identified for this report, but he stopped by the ATM at the Neighbors Federal Credit Union on Airline Highway in Prairieville. That’s where he unknowingly used his card on the machine with a skimmer attached. He said he never thought he would be vulnerable to this kind of crime at his bank.

”I was at a bank,” he said. “I had that sense of comfort and that sense of knowing that I’m in a safe place that’s recorded on multiple cameras and nobody’s going to be tampering with bank ATM. They tamper with a sketchy gas station ATM so I just let my guard down and I paid for it.”

The man said he was able to get his money back quickly, but he said not everyone is that fortunate when facing a crime like what he experienced.

“How are you going to pay for your bills? How are you going to pay for your rent and how are you going to get food or gas? Like that is a real repercussion for a lot of people,” he added.

The WAFB I-TEAM reached out to management at the bank. They confirm their location as well as a few other spots were targeted in the crime. Tanya Lawrence is the chief operations officer at Neighbors Federal Credit Union. She said they cannot say how much money was taken or how many customers were impacted. However, she does say all of the money either has been or will be recovered.

“Members that were affected, they have been notified, the cards have been closed, and the funds have already been placed back into their account,” said Lawrence.

While these skimmers are usually found at gas pumps and other spots, Lawrence said unfortunately, they have also been popping up on bank ATMs as well. She said the problem is that thieves are getting more clever and more brazen with their tactics.

“They get more and more sophisticated. They now have a device they put inside of the card reader that’s not easily detected by anyone, including branch staff, and now, they are using devices that look just like our machines,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence said there are signs that can help customers know if an ATM has been tampered with. The bank suggests customers check out the machines to see if anything looks out of place, look for any hidden clues on the pin pad, watch out for their surroundings, and keep a close eye on their account for any changes they did not make. Even with all this, Lawrence said there are some skimmers that are nearly impossible to spot no matter how much the bank monitors their ATM.

While the group that hit the Neighbors Federal Credit Union ATM is still on the run, the victim who told WAFB about the crime said he hopes the thieves are caught soon.

“Karma is real, and it’s going to come and bite you in the butt. You’re going to get yours one day. I just hope I’m there to see it,” he added.

The bank does have surveillance video of the crime. Law enforcement is investigating the incident.

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