Crime

Credit card skimmers found at bank in Orcutt and Santa Maria

Authorities hope public can help identify suspects

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Take a close look at the card skimmer pictured above. Santa Barbara County Sheriff Detectives say two were found over the weekend at separate Rabobank locations. One was found in Orcutt at the Rabobank branch in the 1100 block of E. Clark Avenue.  Another was found at the Rabobank in the 1500 block of S. Broadway in Santa Maria.

"It makes me concerned that someone could take my money," says Ramona Lingar. She has been banking at Rabobank for 30 years.

The devices were found on ATM machines and were placed there using double-sided tape. The bank's Communications Director says they were there for several hours on Sunday morning. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office say the devices were placed on the ATMs at 5:23 a.m. in Orcutt, and 5:39 a.m. in the Santa Maria location.

Suspects returned to collect the skimmers, but the devices had already been taken by law enforcement.

"In this case they put false cash dispensers, with a surveillance camera to capture the people's PIN codes so there was some level of sophistication here," said Kelly Hoover, Public Information Officer with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

This remains an active investigation with detectives still looking for the suspect or suspects involved. Surveillance photos of the suspects have been released, in hopes members of the public can help identify them. See below.


The bank says it is notifying the small number of customers who used the ATM while the device was on, and will be issuing replacement cards. However, that still has some customers on edge.

"We are running every minute, every second means so much but because of this problem I'll make sure to go in (to the bank) for sure," says Pon Chana, a customer.

Chana has banked with Rabobank for about two years. He says he'll be on the look-out for devices like this. "You have to be careful," he said. 

Investigators said the scammers also installed false money dispenser covers that contained small video cameras used to capture code entries on the PIN pad.

The Sheriff's Office urges the public to thoroughly check ATMs before sticking their card in. "It makes me more aware of it, I'll try to make sure to remember to check it," says Lingar.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office at 805-934-6160, or leave an anonymous tip at 805-681-4171.

TIPS TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM

Here are some tips from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department on how to avoid becoming a victim of a skimming device:

  • Pull on the card reader, it should be intact and not loose.
  • Wiggle your card slightly as you are putting it in the machine.
  • Cover your keypad with your hand when you type in your PIN.
  • Use an ATM located inside a bank, grocery store or restaurant if possible.
  • Be especially cautious when using ATMs on the weekend when skimming devices are most prevalent.
  • If possible, avoid using your card’s magstripe and instead insert your card for its EMV chip to be read.
  • If something doesn’t feel right about an ATM machine or a credit card reader, don’t use it.
  • Report suspicious card readers to the bank/business and contact law enforcement right away.
  • Pay attention to your bank records to monitor your debit and credit card transactions.
  • Pay attention to phone calls from your bank alerting you to possible fraud detection.
     

HOW TO SKIMMERS WORK?

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office explains how these skimmer devices work:

"When a customer swipes their card in the machine, the skimmers essentially grab the data off the card’s magnetic stripe, which can then be used to access their bank account or to create clone cards. Since the typical skimmer is typically smaller than a deck of cards and neatly fits over the card reader, they can be difficult to detect. In addition to ATM machines, they are also most commonly found on fuel pumps. The information cannot be used unless the scammers are able to collect the devices."


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