Skimmer on East Haven ATM takes cash from accounts

EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– Police say nearly 200 First Niagara customers had their information compromised, and some had money stolen after a thief attached a skimmer device to their ATM on Main Street.

East Haven ATM skimmer 3That’s not the only First Niagara ATM the crook attached a skimmer to. East Haven police say surveillance photos show a person, who appears to be the same man, attaching a skimmer to an ATM on Frontage Road Jan. 3.

Ron Vecellio found out a couple of days ago he lost more than $300. He only learned about it after he tried to use the ATM.

East Haven ATM skimmer 4 “I wasn’t sure what was wrong. I knew the money was in the account,” said Vecellio. “When your card is denied you’re just not sure what’s going on.”

He says a First Niagara employee told him his card information was used at an ATM in Queens, New York.

“I know they got me for $300, something like that,” said Vecellio. “So do the multiplication. It’s real quick. They’re making big buckaroos.”

Police say First Niagara caught the criminal’s picture on surveillance on Jan. 17. The bank filed a report with East Haven police on Jan. 23. Police say typically these criminals obtain a skimmer, slide it onto the card holder, and obtain their victim’s information. Then, they skip town and start to collect.

“At least in our history here that I can think of in recent years, they weren’t tracked back to somebody in the local area from East Haven,” said East Haven Police Lt. David Emerman.

First Niagara declined an on-camera interview, but sent emails about the incident.

“In this case we were able to quickly identify the criminal activity through our proactive anti-fraud measures and we took action to limit the exposure to our customers,” said the VP of First Niagara Corporate Communications, Karen Crane. She said they’re conducting their own investigation.

“We are working with all impacted customers to ensure they are fully reimbursed, and none will experience a loss as a result of this activity.”

Police advise to protect yourself by investigating the machine before you slide your card in. If something is out of place, don’t use it. Also, they say it’s a good idea to cover your hand when you type your pin into the machine.

“A lot of the times they have a separate device that captures your pin number while you’re entering it,” said Lt. Emerman. “A camera that’s located on the ATM.”

Vecellio says he’s disappointed it happened, but relieved the bank is taking care of him.

“As much as it’s annoying, if you get mugged on the street and somebody takes your money you have no recourse, where as here as much as it feels like your privacy was invaded, you do get the money back,” said Vecellio.

If you think your bank card was compromised, contact First Niagara, and if you are victim be sure to contact East Haven Police and file a report.

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