Deputies catch three men suspected of tampering with ATM
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, February 18, 2013 at 8:05 p.m.
Police have apprehended three men suspected of putting a fake credit card reader on the ATM at the Jonesville Publix on Monday morning.
Alachua County Sheriff's Office spokesman Lt. Todd Kelly said the manager of Publix called police around 9:40 a.m. about three men "possibly putting on or taking off a skimmer device" at an ATM in front of the store.
ATM skimming involves placing an electronic device on an ATM that scoops information from a bank card's magnetic strip whenever a customer uses the machine, according to the FBI, and allows criminals to withdraw funds from a customer's bank account. Some experts say ATM skimming costs U.S. banks hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
According to Kelly, the men placed thin mold that slips over the existing card reader. The device includes a camera that records the card users' personal identification number. Kelly said the men sat in a car nearby and collected information wirelessly. They collected the device and left.
Deputies responded and got behind a beige Dodge Caravan near the 9800 block of Newberry Road, Kelly said. When deputies tried to stop the car — near the Jiffy Lube at 7531 West Newberry Road — the three men ran.
Two of the men were apprehended quickly, but one ran into a nearby clothing store.
He drew customers' attention because he was "huffing and puffing," Kelly said, and might have fallen because he had some blood on him.
A deputy and a K-9 walked into the store, and the man gave up. He had ditched his jacket, Kelly said, and was trying to change his shoes.
All three men told deputies they did not speak English and claimed to be of Romanian descent, and Kelly said they might be part of a larger ring of criminals who travel up and down the Interstate 75 corridor, targeting businesses near the highway exits. Deputies transported the men to the Sheriff's Office, and found items in the car that showed they were probably part of a bigger organization. Also, deputies contacted other state law enforcement agencies and found out about alerts for the suspects in other parts of the state. Deputies are now trying to ascertain how big the operation actually is and how far the men have traveled. Kelly said police are going to charge the men once they are positively identified.