Buffalo Grove and Wheeling Police Investigating High Number of Unauthorized ATM Withdrawals


UPDATE: Buffalo Grove police have received a total of 21 reports of unauthorized withdrawal from debits related to ATMs as of Wednesday morning. Buffalo Grove police received additional reports of unauthorized withdrawal during the day Wednesday.

Buffalo Grove police are involved in ATM investigations after they received seven reports of unauthorized debits of $503 each, and three additional reports of withdrawals ranging from $500 to $700 on Sunday occurring as far away as California. An eleventh report was received on Monday of an unauthorized withdrawal of $263 was routed through an Ohio network.

Wheeling police received 40 reports of unauthorized withdrawals, ranging from $100 to $900 on Sunday and Monday — most occurred on Sunday. Many of the withdrawals were about $500 or $503 — locally occurring in Woodfield Mall, Melrose Park, and Harwood Heights. The extra $3 corresponds to a $3 bank fee.

Police are investigating for a common form of activity that might connect all of these ATM customers to an offender. The offender could have supplied information to a national or international crime organization. People are known to sell banking information in Internet chat rooms.

Police urge bank customers to check their accounts often, so there is less chance that customers have to pay for the unauthorized charges. Customers who find out early can get their account numbers changed to stop withdrawals and invalidate the old account number.

Criminals can capture card information with high definition video cameras or by using a device called a skimmer. The skimmer sits inside the real card reader and captures the card information. A camera nearby captures the finger action of the customer to access the PIN.

It is also possible for an employee in a store to swipe the card in a portable card reader and retrieve the account number from the magnetic stripe. Employees can also find a way to access computers with the stored bank card information.

Card trapping is when a device is put in the card reader that causes the card to stay trapped in the reader. After a customer leaves the ATM with the card trapped, the criminal offenders can cause the trapper device to release the card, and then they can use the card.

Police recommend victims call 9-1-1 to report the unauthorized withdrawals and contact their banks to have their account numbers changed immediately.