More defrauded bank customers reported unauthorized withdrawals and charges to their bank accounts Thursday. They are among a growing list of victims of what at least one bank calls a “skimming scam.”
Conway police continued to receive reports from local bank customers who said they found unauthorized withdrawals and charges to their bank accounts out of Oklahoma and California. The latest round of victims brings the total to about 30 who have filed reports with the police department since Aug. 27. The reported loss of money is around $28,500.
Illegal activity on some victims’ accounts has been found as late as Wednesday.
“It’s not over,” said CPD public information officer La Tresha Woodruff. “People are still making reports.”
Woodruff said the department’s “hands are tied” until detectives find something that shows criminal activity occurred in Conway.
According to CPD detective Brian Williams, there is no evidence that the illegal activity is part of a skimming scam.
In a skimming scam, the victim’s card information is copied by a recording device and used elsewhere.
“We aren’t saying it’s not [a skimming scam], but in order for us to say it is we have to have some evidence, and at this time, we don’t,” Williams said in an email.
A group used the skimming technique in Conway about a year ago according to police. Unknown subjects used a recording device to extract information from bank cards in an automatic teller machine or other self-use card reader.
One local bank spokesman said Wednesday that the bank’s customers were some of those affected in a recent skimming scam.
Woodruff said there’s nothing definitive that proves these recent unauthorized charges were the result of skimming, but “we’re not saying that didn’t happen.”
Woodruff said Thursday the department will reach out to area banks and let them know “we are doing all we can to figure out what’s going on here.”
“We will likely get together with some bank officials for a press conference to talk more in detail about what people can do to try to prevent this from happening,” she said.
Williams said if detectives could positively identify the location, type and time of the actual theft, he could offer more specific advice about recognizing the scam.
“However, since the card numbers and pin numbers were obtained, a skimmer attached to a self-use card reader, gas pump, ATM, Sonic, etc., where you have to manually enter a pin number is likely where these were obtained,” Williams said in an email. “The technology that these suspects use is becoming more advanced, utilizing internal components of the target machine or pump, wi-fi capability and larger storage devices.”
Williams said to inspect a self-use card reader such as a gas pump or ATM to see if a component of the machine appears newer when compared to rest of the pump or ATM.
“External skimmers add bulk to the face of the machine and can usually be pulled straight off. However, if the suspects are utilizing an internal mounted wi-fi skimmer that ties into the machine’s wiring harness, there is no way for the consumer to detect it.”
Williams said one step to protect card information is to use the bank card as a credit card instead of making a debit transaction. “At least they won’t get your pin number,” he said.
Woodruff said those affected should continue to file reports. The department hopes victims’ information will provide a lead.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)