Police Alert Citizens & Banks About ATM Skimming Scheme


The Cambridge Police Department wants to alert local citizens and banks of an ongoing scheme involving thieves using stolen bank account information to defraud banks.  Cambridge Police are aware of at least seven instances between November 2013 and January 2014 in which thieves utilized “ATM skimmers” at a bank to capture account information.  The bank was informed of this activity last week, as the at-large group suspected of being involved in this scheme extracted an undisclosed amount of cash from the compromised accounts in New York City.

What is an ATM Skimmer?
It is an illegal activity that involves the installation of a device (generally while a branch is closed), usually undetectable by ATM users, that secretly records bank account data when the user inserts an ATM card into the machine or an ATM door card reader. Criminals can then encode the stolen data onto a blank card and use it to steal from the customer’s bank account.

The Cambridge Police and its Community Relations Unit are working with local banks and educating regional and branch managers about these schemes, which are not isolated to Cambridge.  Special attention is being placed on ATMs by Cambridge Police patrol officers, particularly during the hours of bank closures.

The Cambridge Police advises local citizens to use precaution and suggests following these tips to help you avoid falling victim to skimmers:

  • Inspect ATMs, gas pumps or credit card readers before using them. Be suspicious if you see anything loose, crooked, damaged or if you notice scratches or tape residue.
  • When entering your PIN, block the keypad with your other hand to prevent possible hidden cameras from recording your number.
  • If possible, use an ATM at an inside location.
  • Be careful of ATMs in tourist areas, as they tend to be popular targets of skimmers.
  • If your ATM card is not returned after a transaction or after hitting cancel, immediately contact the financial institution that issued the card.

If citizens are suspicious or experience this type of activity, they are encouraged to report it to the Cambridge Police Department immediately by calling 617-349-3300.


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Cambridge Police Department

Branville G. Bard, Jr.
Police Commissioner

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