ATM Thieves Exploring Ways to Cash in

Remember the good old days when someone in need of money walked into a bank, pulled a gun and demanded cash? Sometimes a cleverly written note was added to the mix to hopefully keep the transaction on the quiet.

Yes, there are problems with that M.O. If the robber is wearing a disguise, alert people can suspect something is wrong. If there is no attempt to cover the face, cameras get a clear picture of the robber, which greatly helps authorities to track him down.

Then there are dye packs, bank guards or bystanders with a death wish to contend with, plus the matter of making a clean exit. Getaway cars idling at the curb raise red flags and also can get recorded on video, license plates included. If the robber simply walks out of the bank and strolls down the sidewalk, police are often on him before he gets far.

The target of choice

For these reasons and more, automatic teller machines are becoming the target of choice among bank robbers. First, they hold a lot of cash. Second, there are no tellers to interface with, and a pair of sunglasses and a baseball cap may be enough to render the ever-present cameras useless.

Which leaves a serious problem to be dealt with: How do you get the money out of the machine?

Robbers are trying a variety of methods, and they are getting more devious all the time.

Some guys in the Midwest recently figured out a way to electronically trick the machine into spitting out large amounts of money, much more than was available in the debit card accounts they targeted.

They did this by accessing the “management function” of the machine to do what they wanted it to do. When they finished, they changed the settings back to what they were.

Used skimming devices

Other criminals in the Philadelphia area used skimming devices on ATMs in retail areas. The information from the skimmers allowed them to clone debit and ATM cards used on the machine and withdraw cash from ATMs at other locations.

Meanwhile in California, a couple guys deposited counterfeit checks and money orders in a credit union’s ATM. They then withdrew cash or transferred money into a savings account before anyone caught on.

They made off with more than $80,000.

As long as banks and teller machines are where the money is, crooks will keep trying various methods to get their hands on it.

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