By Marjorie Nesin
---- — Gloucester police are advising residents to check bank statements after learning Friday that an illegal device used to read debit card information had been attached to the Citizens Bank ATM at the bank’s Main Street location.
While the device has since been removed — apparently by the perpetrators, police said — the card reader, a so-called “skimming device,” appeared to have been attached to the ATM between Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, and resulted in an estimated $12,000 being lifted from the accounts of people who used the machine, according to a Citizens Bank fraud investigator who contacted Gloucester police Friday.
“The citizens need to know that they need to check their account statements and to notify us as soon as possible — notify their banks and then us,” Gloucester Police Lieutenant Kathy Auld said. “We’ll just pull everything in, take all the reports, and keep tabs.”
According to a police report, security footage from the bank appears to show suspects removing the device from the machine last Thursday, though police reported the device seemed to be actively in place only over the weekend of Jan. 12-13, and only at the automatic teller machine at the Main Street entrance of the Citizens Bank branch, according to a police report. The device did not involve the same bank’s second ATM outlet that fronts on Rogers Street, officials said.
A skimmer is a device, such as a camera or a card reader, that is attached to an automatic teller machine’s card slot and other areas of the machine used to illegally obtain debit and credit card information, according to police. That information can then be used to steal money, defraud the cardholder, or to commit other crimes through the potential theft of personal information, according to police.
A Citizens Bank fraud investigator told police “skimming devices” have frequently been tied to organized crime in Eastern European criminal enterprises. The Citizens Bank investigator has also reported the incident to the FBI.
Gloucester detectives notified other area banks of the device Friday, and said the investigation is ongoing. Officers are continuing to review security footage from inside the bank.
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.