Westhampton Beach Village and Southampton Town police are investigating the possibility of thieves using a skimmer device on an ATM at a village bank to steal more than $7,000 in cash from customers over the weekend.
According to Westhampton Beach Detective Ed Hamor, four people have filed reports with Village Police since Friday, reporting unauthorized withdrawals totaling more than $4,000 from their TD Bank accounts. Town Police, meanwhile, said that three additional victims, all with TD Bank accounts, filed reports with them this week, stating that more than $3,000 in funds has gone missing.
Det. Hamor said detectives believe the skimmer was installed at some point at the TD Bank on Montauk Highway in Westhampton Beach, though it has not been recovered, suggesting that those responsible have already retrieved the device. Village Police will be requesting video surveillance tapes from the bank, he added.
Skimmers are typically placed over an ATM’s card reader, allowing it to scan and read information from the magnetic strips of debit cards. At the same time, a tiny camera placed at the top of the ATM records the victim’s PIN number, allowing the thieves to access their accounts.
A skimmer device can store information for weeks at a time, meaning that those who installed it could potentially have access to hundreds of accounts, Det. Hamor said. Once the information is retrieved, a hacker can transfer the information to a forged bank card and make unauthorized withdrawals.
In this instance, the thieves used the stolen information to make withdrawals at various ATMs in Manhattan, according to Det. Hamor. The victims include those living in Westhampton Beach, Westhampton, Speonk and Quiogue. The first case was reported to Town Police last Thursday, February 7, when a Speonk woman reported that someone stole $1,493 from her account. The most recent incident was reported on Monday, February 11, when three Westhampton Beach residents called Village Police to report that someone stole $1,400, $1,021 and $1,102, respectively, from their accounts.
Det. Hamor said detectives are investigating but noted that they had no leads as of earlier this week. He also encouraged those who have any information, or have been victimized in a similar fashion, to call Westhampton Beach Police at (631) 288-3444.
Det. Hamor is also asking that ATM users be extra vigilant and take additional steps to protect their PIN numbers.
“People should really cover up the number pad with their hand when they are entering their PIN number,” he said. “If they see anything out of the ordinary at the ATM, let the bank know.”
This week’s discovery is not the first time that a skimmer has been found on an ATM in Westhampton Beach. In December 2011, detectives found such a device installed on the ATM at the Chase Bank on Main Street. No arrests were made in that investigation.
Minor Injuries In Rollover
A heavy rescue unit from the Eastport Fire Department responded to the scene of a rollover on Sunrise Highway last Wednesday evening that resulted in minor injuries.
According to a press release issued by fire department press officer Francis “Bud” Mazura, the call came in at 7:21 p.m. on February 6. He said responding firefighters found a car on its roof on the center median of the highway, near Exit 62. No other vehicles were involved in the accident.
The driver of the car, who was its only occupant, complained of hip pain and was transported by the East Moriches Community Ambulance to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue, authorities said. The car was damaged in the crash.
Suffolk County Police said they could not provide any information about the accident, but noted that no charges have been filed against the driver. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
According to Mr. Mazura, 18 firefighters responded to the scene with one heavy rescue truck, one pumper and two traffic control cars. Upon arriving on scene, firefighters disabled the car’s electrical system, directed traffic and assisted EMS personnel.