Money stolen via Kettering ATM part of skyrocketing 'skimmer' crime in U.S.

Nov. 3—Money recently stolen from bank accounts at a Kettering Wright Patt Credit Union through ATM skimming is part of a rapid increase in that type of crime.

Skimmers are small devices placed on the outside of an ATM's card reader or keypad, according to the Wright-Patt Credit Union. They are designed to blend in with the ATM and capture your PIN or card number.

The method used to take money from customers' accounts at the 1810 Woodman Center Drive branch grew by about 500% in the first half of 2022, data shows.

Total compromised cards increased about 368% from the previous year, according to FICO, a credit score agency. About 3,000 financial institutions were affected by skimmers in 2022, FICO data shows.

"This growth trend is concerning not only for" financial institutions "but also for the consumers whose card details and account information are impacted," a FICO report stated.

"The jump in skimming activity was directly related to an increase in the number" points of compromise, according to the report. This shows "that criminals are back in force and working to put a skimmer in as many locations as possible."

The crimes at the Kettering WPCU branch occurred in October, and there is an "ongoing investigation," according to Tracy Szarzi-Fors, a senior vice president with the credit union.

"We're real happy the police are sharing that information and getting that out there," she said. "I think awareness is going to be key. Skimming is on the rise in the United States whether it's at ATMs or gas pumps. There's lots of different ways that this is happening right now."

While declining to discuss details, Szarzi-Fors said a priority for the credit union is taking care of its customers and keeping accounts secure.

"If there were any identified, unauthorized funds, we've made sure that we restored that and identified anybody that was negatively impacted," she said.

Kettering police are seeking help in identifying two persons of interest in "numerous credit card theft and fraud cases," according to the department's Facebook page.

Police are asking anyone with leads or information on these subjects to call (937) 296-3251 and reference report #23-047498.

The ATM device "is significantly different" than those used in fuel pump skimming, said Mike Brill of the Montgomery County Auditor's Office.

The county office handles gas station skimming issues, but has no authority with ATM instances, he said.

Fuel pump skimming in the county has been less prevalent in recent times, "so I would suspect that they're shifting their fraud techniques to other avenues," Brill said.

Officials urged customers to check their accounts frequently and notify banks immediately if they detect any unauthorized withdrawals.