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2014-02-03 at 10:20

ATM fraud: Dozens of local bank accounts raided

By Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com
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Chris Johnston says she might go back to using cash.

The Thunder Bay woman was one of dozens of city residents who woke up Monday morning to learn their bank accounts had been raided, the money illegally withdrawn at automated teller machines in the United States.

Johnston said she lost more than $800 in four separate transactions, ranging from $95 to more than $300.

It was a shocking discovery, she said, moments after filing a theft report at Thunder Bay police headquarters.

“I noticed there were four foreign-exchange transactions on my account that shouldn’t have been there because we weren’t in the States.

So I went straight to the bank and reported it. They did an investigation on their end and told us it had been done on Saturday in New York,” Johnston said.

It was a first for the couple, who believe their information may have been compromised on the north side of the city, owing to the face they rarely, if ever, use their debit card on the south side of town.

“I’ve never been a victim of identity theft and ...I guess I realized it was taking place. I just never thought it would hit us. We’ve always been very careful with our cards and PIN numbers,” Johnston said.

Her husband Bill said even though their bank has promised to reimburse them, losing that much money could have dramatic effects on a lot of people.

“You have a fixed income and then they take money out,” he said. “If it had been a mortgage payment needed, it would have been gone.
“All they told us was there was 14 so far that had been reported to them and they didn’t really need any information about where I used the card because it seemed to be kind of a random thing.”

Police say they’re not sure how widespread the fraud was, only that they’d received several calls and that banks were starting to take preventative measures, freezing cards they’d suspected had been compromised.

Spokeswoman Julie Tilbury said the investigation is still in its preliminary stages, though it does appear credit union customers were hit hardest. 

“We do not have the full story, but we are encouraging anyone who does notice any fraudulent activities to contact first their financial institution. Secondly they can contact police and make a report.”

Tilbury said the thieves might have had stored the information for months and decided to release it to their operatives all at once on a weekend, when bank and credit union staff would be minimized.

Electronic fraud is on the increase, and not just in Thunder Bay.

“Everyone’s using electronic devices, debit cards, credit cards. It just makes it easier for them to be able to do these types of crimes,” Tilbury said.

She added the banks are the real victims in cases like this, as customers who report money stolen will be reimbursed. It will be the banks who use their own internal software to attempt to narrow down where the card data was stolen locally.

Tilbury said the best way to avoid becoming a victim is not to use debit cards in stores that don’t use chip readers. She recommended keeping regular checks on bank and credit card accounts, and reporting any suspicious activity immediately.

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Comments

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Wolfie says:
Some whens and wheres would be a nice addition to the story...
2/3/2014 12:14:05 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Police don't know. The couple we interviewed said they only use their card in Port Arthur. Police also said the information could have been stored by the thieves for months and released as a batch this weekend.
2/3/2014 1:16:33 PM
virtualrealityczech says:
...and even when they know when and where it occurred, for some reason banks refuse to divulge this information to the affected customers. Not sure what the train of thought is behind that process.
2/3/2014 1:22:41 PM
ring of fire dude says:
Target ?
2/3/2014 11:16:20 PM
ring of fire dude says:
For once I'd like these hackers to clear my mortgage off the banks books .
2/3/2014 12:24:58 PM
ProDevelopment says:
Leith you might want to get clarification and more details on this story. From what I was told by my bank, it's more like 100's of people were defrauded not several. I myself lost $500. Also ATM fraud is misleading, it may have been some ATM's, but POS (point of sale/debit machines) at various merchants were compromised as well. I speak from experience because I haven't used an ATM in years, all of my transactions have been on POS terminals.
2/3/2014 12:36:11 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Police have no idea how many people it affected yet. I wouldn't be surprised if it is, in fact, hundreds. I just have no way to verify that yet.
2/3/2014 1:18:15 PM
bluebear1985 says:
It's a good thing I caught this sooner rather than later. When I went to my bank, they gave me a statement of the suspicious transactions made by whoever did this, had me sign a few forms, and had me go down to the police station to fill out a report. Once I did that, I had to take it back to the bank so I could have the funds reimbursed. It may be good to do for anyone else this may have happened to.
2/3/2014 1:01:57 PM
S Duncan says:
What sad situation. I look forward to more information if it becomes available.

From the way I read it, does this mean the info was taken from customers at a North Ward business?

2/3/2014 2:08:31 PM
lynn says:
I don't get it. How are they withdrawing the money? Have the cards themselves been stolen? And if so how did the thieves get the pin numbers. This is really strange.
2/3/2014 2:09:16 PM
agentf says:
I would guess card skimers. A merchant can quickly swipe your card and steal the data off it and watch you enter your pin. All they have to do is copy the card info to another card like a hotel card or a gift card.

Some theifs even make fake ATM fronts, that cover the real atm and have a skimmer plus a camera to watch for your pin. I always pull at the ATM or look for somethig weird. Cover your hand when entering your pin.

Most POS machines in the US dont use chip technology, which makes me beleive this is a skimming operation.
2/3/2014 2:39:59 PM
SomeGuy says:
Lynn it's fairly easy to create a new debit card. You can legally buy them off internet from companies that sell point or sale hardware. All that is stored in your debit card stripe is your debit card number plus a few other numbers.

It's the PIN number that is hard to get, the machine was likely compromised. Most likely the ATM was compromised considering 95% of them are still running Windows XP. I'm always leary of using those off brand non bank ATM's we see around town that look like they come from China.
2/3/2014 6:42:53 PM
rootbear says:
I use the atm/debit card very little to none as I hate the service charges I get....I use mostly cash. Mind you, I could always get mugged.
2/3/2014 2:25:38 PM
moonpie says:
A half million dollars was withdrawn from my bank account this weekend. I hope my bank reimburses me.
2/3/2014 2:46:30 PM
SomeGuy says:
Right, half million dollars.
2/3/2014 6:44:52 PM
nads74 says:
I don't feel bad for the banks, this is their technology that fails and it's why we ALL pay service fees, high interest rates and crazy ATM fees (being looked at now by the gov't, cost them .39 cents when we use a machine of another bank and they charge up to $5, that is theft!)

Everyone will get their money back, yes it sucks and yes it takes time...
2/3/2014 2:51:36 PM
tsb says:
You signed into an agreement with a private corporation to provide a service to you, and part of that was that you would be charged a fee to access their equipment. A private company can charge what it wants, and the free market will determine whether it is acceptable or not. Not the government.

It's not theft. It's a legal agreement between you and your bank. You're more than welcome to seek an alternative!
2/3/2014 7:36:38 PM
Miles August says:
Way to argue for the Multinational banks and against your own best interest. Keep fighting the good fight! By the way every bank has the same charges so there is no alternative. The free market doesn't exist. it"s called collusion, and we have a democratically elected government that is "supposed" to protect us from it.
2/4/2014 12:08:15 AM
conker2012 says:
I have never paid bank fees, if a bank wants my mortgage and RRSPs they will have to deal with no bank fees. Negotiate people!
2/4/2014 10:51:29 AM
S Duncan says:
Excellent comment.

People cant be victims of oppressive bank policy unless they volunteer themselves for the position.

It appears many people believe the bank should do everything they want for free.

It can all easily be avoided by paying cash because that's what it was designed for. A person doesn't even need a bank in the first place.

If your employer paid you in cash, (like many employers get paid) you wouldn't even need to go the bank for anything.

and situations like this wouldn't happen.
2/4/2014 2:23:27 PM
Girardin says:
You work in insurance and are a us insets owner yet don't use banks.
No wonder you say you have no money for extras for your family.
That, or get your stories straight lol

2/6/2014 6:24:46 PM
fastball says:
We went from being concerned having our money stolen by thugs on the street to having our money stolen by cyber-criminals on the Web.
Sigh.
2/3/2014 3:29:23 PM
mrforreal says:
One day "again" people will realize and learn that cash is king ... it protect you from identity theft, ATM thefts like this, Merchants such as target USA and many others from mis-using/losing your information. People.. wake up... cash is the most safest and private method to trade with.. ESPCIALLY for small items like restaurant or coffee purchase.
2/3/2014 3:38:27 PM
SomeGuy says:
Someone steals your cash your SOL. Someone steals your credit card your not SOL since there is fraud protection.
2/3/2014 4:15:43 PM
fldon says:
People shouldn't be surprised this is happening. Edward Snowden warned the world of the NSA massive illegal worldwide surveillance upon not only ordinary citizens, but also financial institutions, which they've opened a back door into high profile companies and gain access to private information, which in turn has compromised the way we do our banking...all of our information is out there people, as a result of that back door created by the NSA, company's systems have been in jeopardy of this kind of attack.
So you thank the NSA.
Inform yourself.


2/3/2014 5:36:13 PM
mrforreal says:
People don't steal my cash... I don't hang around with people who steal from me. If people are stealing cash from you.... then you have bigger problems in life then just that missing cash ;) Cheers.
2/3/2014 6:00:48 PM
gone for good says:
The banks are the victims.

I highly doubt that. They make billions screwing average Joe and getting rich.
We are the victims. It's never the banks....ever.
2/3/2014 7:47:37 PM
Nitesky says:
We had money taken from our credit union account. We did not get robbed, the credit union was and they have to come good for what the books said we had in the account. They allowed someone else to have access to our account and that is a no-no
2/3/2014 7:53:15 PM
dg1981 says:
virtualrealityczech, the reason the people at the bank you speak to aren't given the information on which store the fraud was committed at is because 1. they aren't given that information, 2. it involves an investigation with authorities and you aren't supposed to give out information on a pending investigation and 3. if it happened at a store whoms identity was made public by the banks it could make the banks liable for defamation which would mean a huge lawsuit because if that company could prove they lost business (as consumers would feel less safe shopping there) because you divulged that someone had tampered with one of their debit machines without yet having all the relevant information on the incident then you contributed to their loss in income. Information about these incidence should be processed and presented by the authorities, not the banks.
2/3/2014 11:14:17 PM
kitti says:
At my place of work there is over seven people that got hit, however a few of us got phone calls from our banks on the weekend stating that our debit cards may have been compromised. Luckily no funds were taken I guess they stopped whatever strange transaction was trying to take place. I am glad I am with PC financial because first of all they called me and froze my debit card (all I had to do is reset the pin the next day) and they don't charge any fees for their bank accounts unless you use a non CIBC ATM, all cheques, debit purchases, bill payments etc are freeeeeeee.
2/4/2014 12:59:57 PM
parent42 says:
shopper's drugmart on memorial an john?
2/6/2014 7:27:00 PM
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