Skimmer found in Boulder; 'Wiggle' to check ATMs

Posted at 11:06 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 01:06:11-05

A Wells Fargo customer made a money-saving discovery at a Boulder ATM, when they found a skimmer device planted on the machine.

On a Friday visit, the customer noticed a hole that appeared to have been drilled into the top light bar. When they reached for the light bar, it came off and exposed wiring with a microchip, memory card and mini camera.

Boulder Police are investigating who put the skimmer on the machine at the Wells Fargo at 6525 Gunpark Drive in Gunbarrel.

The U.S. Secret Service also investigates skimmers on ATMs and gas pumps.

"There's no 100 percent failsafe to protect the consumer from this type of fraud some point in their lifetime," said Kerry O'Grady, Special Agent In Charge of the U.S. Secret Service in the Denver Field Office.

In September, 1,000 FirstBank customers in Denver, Littleton and Boulder had their cards re-issued after skimmers were found at three ATMs. The devices had a hidden pinhole camera to record the customer's PIN and a hidden battery pack to keep the camera and skimmer active.

Late last year, skimmers were found on RTD ticket stations in Denver and Littleton.

Earlier this year, a skimmer was found on an ATM at Park Meadows. In that case, a skimmer shell was placed over the neon-lit card slot. The only users who would readily notice something like that are those who regularly use the ATM and pay close attention.

"You can wiggle the pieces and make sure that nothing comes off," said O'Grady. "Look for holes. Pinhole cameras will capture your PIN. The bad guy can't use your debit card number without your PIN."

Sometimes the skimmer isn't on the ATM, but rather the after-hours card slot to access a locked ATM.

"We have seen them install skimming devices at that point where you actually enter the building," said O'Grady. "Clearly they don't have your PIN, but they can capture the track data on your debit card."

Other tips from the Secret Service and Boulder Police include:

  • Cover the keypad with your hand while entering your PIN
  • Use highly visible ATMs -- in view of security/cameras
  • Look over the entire ATM for parts that don't match in styling, color or material.
  • If the keypad looks thicker than normal, there could be a fake overlay
  • Check your statements online

"Often times the bad guys will do a test run, maybe just $20," said O'Grady. "Even if it's a small charge, but you don't recognize it, contact your bank to look into that."

If any customers in Boulder believe their accounts have been compromised, they should contact Wells Fargo. The bank told Denver7 that it will take care of any customers who believe they are victims of skimming.