Reader Kellie reports being the victim of an ATM skimming scam in the Chicago area. Mostly, she was amazed that the thefts weren't reported in the local media, and she asked bank employees why. Here's what they told her.
I live in Park Ridge, a suburb of Chicago, and I was recently the victim of ATM skimming. My ATM/debit card was skimmed at the Charter One branch in Park Ridge during the weekend of July 25-26. Withdrawals totaling $2,000 were made from my checking account on August 5 and 6. Fortunately, the bank reimbursed me for the funds stolen, but this incident caused me a lot of unnecessary hassle and worry.
What I wanted to share with you is some information I got from a bank employee I'm friendly with. She told me that the scammers who did this are an Eastern European gang who have already skimmed numerous other ATMs in the Chicago area. They got over 50 people's card and PIN information from the Park Ridge ATM alone. According to her, the FBI and bank investigators have been chasing this gang for six months. She said that they started out in the city and are now working their way out into the suburbs.
What's amazing to me is that to the best of my knowledge there has been not one single story about this in the local media. Do a Google news search for "ATM skimming Chicago" and you won't find anything. If these guys have been in the area for six months, they must have already scammed hundreds if not thousands of people. You would think that might warrant a story in the Trib or something. It wasn't even mentioned in the police blotter of the local Park Ridge paper.
Very interesting. To prevent something similar from happening to you, familiarize yourself with how to recognize an ATM skimmer, try to stick to a few familiar-looking ATMs when possible, and be generally alert.