September 22, 2014

Elyria
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Skimmer devices found on 2 ATMs

VERMILION — Police are telling residents to keep an eye on their bank accounts after a skimmer device was found at ATMs in Vermilion and Elyria.

The skimmer is a device placed over an ATM card reader that can steal a card’s information. A tiny pinhole camera then records a person entering his or her PIN.

Vermilion Police Chief Chris Hartung said the skimmers are virtually unnoticeable.

“It’s molded and made to look exactly like the unit, so if you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it,” he said.

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Vermilion police found the skimming device Saturday at the Fifth-Third Bank on Liberty Avenue after receiving a report of an ATM tamper alarm there.

Hartung said he does not believe any accounts were compromised as officers were called 30 minutes after the alarm. Police now have the skimmer device, as well as a SIM card with information needed for the perpetrators to obtain access to bank accounts.

A skimming device also was reported at an ATM at U.S. Bank, 455 Midway Blvd., at 4:10 p.m. Sunday.

Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said a card dislodged the device, and a man who was using the ATM called police to report the incident.

“He did a great job in calling,” Costantino said.

Since Sunday, two people have reported that their bank accounts have been compromised. Costantino said it’s important that anyone who used the ATM recently check their accounts regularly.

The Cleveland branch of the U.S. Secret Service is investigating the reports.

Authorities believe the ATM tampering was committed by a group of transient Bulgarians who rent a hotel room in the area and then come back to collect the skimmers after 24 hours, Hartung said.

Hartung said police have reason to believe there are more skimmers in the area, but none in Vermilion after all the ATMs in the city were checked.

The most important thing, Hartung said, is for residents to use caution when using an ATM.

“When you’re using an ATM, take your finger and if you can wiggle the card reader, you have a problem,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason an ATM should wiggle or anything should come loose.”

Anyone with information on the suspect(s) is asked to contact the Vermilion Police Department at (440) 967-6116 or the Elyria Police Department at (440) 323-3302.

Costantino said residents should immediately report any suspicious devices to the bank or by calling the police.

“Just don’t assume that it’s nothing,” he said.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com.