North shore man falls victim to ATM skimming - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports, Social

North shore man falls victim to ATM skimming

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) -

State Police and agents with the U.S. Secret Service are investigating ATM thefts in Louisiana along the I-10 corridor, and a north shore man said he was one of the victims.

Nick Christiana said he got a big surprise when he tried to buy gas Monday.

"This morning I went to go get gasoline to fill up my truck and my card got this disapproved,” Christiana said.

He immediately contacted his bank, Whitney, and what he learned was even more surprising. Someone had been siphoning cash from his account without his knowledge.

"With mine, I had a credit limit of $500 cash per day and because the third day came around after two days of back-to-back days, that was irregular use. They put a flag on it and thank God for Whitney Bank they stopped it,” he said.

Christiana said the last time he had used his PIN number was Friday night, but the withdrawals were made on Saturday and Sunday.

"They went to Mobile, Ala., and they took out $503 there. They went to Alberta, Ala., and they took out $103, and then twice in Pensacola they took out $203 and they did it after two o'clock on Saturday and Sunday,” he said.

In all, the thieves took more than $1,000. He said he was emphatic with bank staffers that he had been victimized.

"I pointed out to her how can I be in Mobile, Ala., at two o'clock on Saturday afternoon and be in Mandeville at three o'clock?' said Christiana.

Whitney Bank has acknowledged that it is one of the banks targeted. The bank issued the following press release on Monday.

"On Saturday evening, January 24, 2015, the bank detected unauthorized activity at several of its ATMs involving Whitney Bank Louisiana customer debit cards. This scheme apparently relates to a broader scheme affecting financial institutions in certain states along the I-10 corridor.

"This is not a breach of the Whitney Bank system. This scheme appears to involve criminals attaching a plastic mold and metal plate to ATM card receptors to capture card numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs). This type of ATM fraud is designed to access debit card numbers and cash and does not compromise customer bank account information.

"The bank immediately contacted law enforcement agencies, examined all of the bank's ATMs, and removed any illegal attachments discovered. As an extra precaution, the bank also immediately deactivated and is reissuing approximately 7,100 debit cards, regardless of whether or not this fraud attempt actually affected a customer's account.

"The bank assumes responsibility and will not allow customers to incur any losses because of this fraud incident. The bank is directly notifying customers affected by this unauthorized activity. Meanwhile, the bank regrets any temporary inconveniences customers may experience because of a criminal attempt to gather customers' debit card numbers and PINs at ATMs.

"The bank is working closely with the appropriate investigative and law enforcement agencies and carefully monitoring ATMs and customer ATM transactions in Louisiana for attempted fraud. As an added measure to protect customers, the bank has also initiated additional ATM security in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.

"The company will provide additional information to media as verified and as appropriate to support the broader investigation. Meanwhile, the bank encourages customers to examine carefully any ATM or cash machine at any location before conducting a PIN transaction and to change passwords and PINs regularly.

Bank customers noticing any unusual attachments to an ATM slot and/or surface should contact the Whitney Bank Contact Center at 800.844.4450.”

Louisiana State Police believe a band of thieves is attaching skimmers on ATMs along the interstate, including in Texas, Mississippi and Florida.

"We've determined that it's come down from ATM skimming devices. Basically it's a small device placed on the exterior of an ATM machine that actually captures that ATM card information,” said State Police Sgt. Nick Manale.

The U.S. Secret Service Office in Baton Rouge said such crimes are becoming more common, and there are new cases monthly.

"It's actually becoming very common because you can buy the stuff on the Internet,” said Special Agent Jacquelyn Norris of the Secret Service.

She said pulling on the front of the area where ATM cards are inserted may help detect the skimming devices.

"Nobody really knows that it's there unless you start fiddling around and notice that something's off,” she said.

Christiana is thrilled the money stolen from his account will be restored.

"They assured me that within 48 hours to the max two weeks that things will get cleared up, and I'll get the money reimbursed back into my account,” he said.

He said he will not be using his PIN number anytime soon.

"I advise people do not use your PIN number, he said. "Use it as credit.”

State Police and the Secret Service advise bank customers to check their bank account activity frequently.

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    Monday, January 26 2015 6:02 PM EST2015-01-26 23:02:01 GMT
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    Officials with Whitney Bank say additional ATM security has been initiated in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida after a regional ATM scheme has caused the bank to reissue approximately 7,100 debit cards.On Saturday, Whitney Bank detected unauthorized activity at several Whitney Bank ATMs between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This scheme apparently relates to a broader scheme affecting financial institutions along the I-10 corridor.Officials with Whitney Bank say "this is not a...more>>
    Officials with Whitney Bank say additional ATM security has been initiated in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida after a regional ATM scheme has caused the bank to reissue approximately 7,100 debit cards.On Saturday, Whitney Bank detected unauthorized activity at several Whitney Bank ATMs between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. This scheme apparently relates to a broader scheme affecting financial institutions along the I-10 corridor.Officials with Whitney Bank say "this is not a...more>>
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