Crafty California criminals are duping ATM customers out of their cash by using glue rather than guns.
San Francisco police officers have received a string of theft reports in recent months involving criminals who glue down certain ATM keys and trick their victims into unwittingly parting with their money.
The San Francisco Examiner reported this week that thieves glue down the “enter,” “cancel” and “clear” buttons on the ATM keypad, and then wait for customers to insert their cards and their entire PIN codes.
Once the victim realizes the keys he needs to complete the transaction are stuck, he often becomes flustered and will leave his ATM card in the machine and enter the bank’s lobby to resolve the issue with a teller.
Meanwhile, the criminal finishes the victim’s banking transaction and leaves the scene without being noticed, money in pocket.
Although it’s far less scary than a traditional bank stickup, the glue scheme appears to be working: Four glue-related incidents have been reported in the city’s residential Richmond District since January, Richmond Station police Capt. Richard Corriea told the Examiner.
Corriea said customers should realize that, in the event they find ATM keys glued down, they can still complete their transactions by using the ATM’s touchscreen. Customers should never walk away from ATMs while their cards are still in use.
In the category of devious physical scams, the glue-theft scheme joins the inglorious ranks of other well-known ATM schemes. They include skimmers (which fit onto card slots and record a bank card’s magnetic stripe), fake keypads (overlaid onto the real thing to capture PINs), unauthorized cameras looking over users’ shoulders (again, to capture PINs) and, more often than you’d think, fake ATMs.
Banks warn users to be wary when using ATMs alone or at night. Security experts also advise against using any ATM machine located outdoors, such as on a sidewalk.