Crime

ATM bandit steals $30,000 from credit union accounts in the Tri-Cities

How to avoid becoming debit card fraud victim

Sgt. Aaron Clem of the Kennewick Police Department offers tips on minimizing the risk of becoming a victim of debit card fraud when making purchases in a store or at the gas pumps.
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Sgt. Aaron Clem of the Kennewick Police Department offers tips on minimizing the risk of becoming a victim of debit card fraud when making purchases in a store or at the gas pumps.

Check your bank account.

A fraud operation has swiped more than $30,000 from Tri-City bank accounts in less than a week.

Tri-City detectives are investigating a new round of thefts that struck the area recently. In all, money was stolen from 44 accounts using ATM machines, Kennewick Sgt. Aaron Clem said.

The thefts have been tied to a man in a green coat with a fur collar and a knit cap caught on camera withdrawing money, say police.

He was spotted on surveillance video driving a black Kia Sorento up to several of HAPO credit union’s cash machines early last week.

Another image showed a second man dressed in a back coat with a scarf in the car with him.

Skimmer
Pasco police are trying to find information about this man who tried using 25 stolen credit card accounts to steal money at HAPO Credit Union branches Tri-City Herald

Police know that some of the credit and debit card numbers were obtained by a skimmer inside Joe’s Chevron on the corner of McMurray Street and Jadwin Avenue in Richland.

It’s unclear how many of the stolen numbers were grabbed at that skimmer. There may be others placed on cash machines, gas pumps card readers or other places where you pay with a credit or debit card in the Tri-Cities.

Skimmers are generally placed on top of a card reader and record the information from the magnetic strip. In this case, there appeared to be a small camera that captured the victims’ pin numbers, said police.

Richland skimmer Chevron
A Tri-City fraud operation has swiped more than $30,000 from bank accounts in less than a week and police say some of the account numbers and possibly PIN’s were stolen with a skimmer at Joe’s Chevron in Richland. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

People can spot them by looking for tampering and wiggling the card reader. If the device seems loose or not right, then a skimmer might be attached.

Clem also suggested people use the chip in their bank cards instead of the magnetic strip, whenever possible. If you must use the magnetic strip option, select credit card instead of debit and enter a zip code instead of a PIN code.

Also, you can cover your hand while punching in your personal identification number to shield if from hidden cameras.

Anyone with information on the suspects or a suspected skimmer is asked to call the non-emergency dispatch number at 509-628-0333.

Second man
Pasco police are looking for the passenger who sat in a Kia Sorrento while a man tried to use stolen debit card numbers at banks. Dave Allen

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Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.


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