The Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, local police and the FBI are continuing to investigate automatic teller machine skimming devices that led to the theft of about $180,000 from various bank customers early this month.
This week, more information has emerged about fraudulent withdrawals made on customer accounts over Labor Day weekend. The scam took place at a Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank ATM in Oak Bluffs, but police said members of other banks were also impacted.
On Thursday, bank president and chief executive officer Paul Falvey told the Gazette that about 150 of the bank’s customers were affected, representing about $140,000. The bank has reimbursed the customers for their loss.
Oak Bluffs police Lieut. Timothy Williamson, who is leading the police investigation, said that customers from Citibank, Bank of America and Sovereign Bank were also impacted. He said that on Thursday, three more people came forward to report fraudulent withdrawals. In total, about 175 people were impacted for a total of about $180,000 he said. The FBI and the Secret Service are involved in the investigation.
Mr. Falvey said that through an analysis of transaction data over certain periods of time and footage from video surveillance, the bank has identified an ATM next to Flying Horses Carousel as the site of the fraud.
Two individuals visited the branch multiple times, he said, and their actions appeared suspicious. Mr. Falvey said it appeared to be a fairly typical skimming operation: a high-tech device manufactured to fit the make and model of the ATM, so that it looks like part of the machine, was affixed to the card reader. The device collected card information, he said.
Another individual would come afterward and put what appears to be a micro-camera that would capture keystrokes somewhere along the ATM, he said.
Lieutenant Williamson said the surveillance videos show two men placing the devices at the ATM in the late afternoon or early evening and then coming back four or five hours later to remove them. He said the police are releasing images of the men to see if anyone an identify them.
The information was collected over up to 10 days in late July and early August, Mr. Falvey said.
Mr. Falvey said that under normal operations such as these, the information collected is given to others who create fake ATM cards.
“It appears the police and others think it’s part of a sophisticated crime network, unlikely just one or two people,” Mr. Falvey said. The illegal bank transactions were made in Indianapolis, Chicago and New York.
Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, the Island’s largest bank, is fully insured with the FDIC and customers did not lose any money, Mr. Falvey told the Gazette last week.
Mr. Falvey said the bank continues to cooperate with police and is continuing to do research on customer accounts and transaction history.
Mr. Falvey said the situation is not unique to the Martha’s Vineyard Savings bank. “Any ATM network is susceptible to this sort of activity,” the bank president said.
“I think the reason it happened to be our ATM is because of . . . the great location, the convenience for those people,” he said, calling it a “busy, active summer ATM. “It’s very convenient. It made it a good target.”