(PIKESVILLE, MD) – Maryland State Police and Homeland Security Investigations are joining local law enforcement in the effort to identify the photo of someone who may be a tech-savvy thief suspected of stealing the ATM card and code numbers of scores of people throughout the region.
The suspect is described as a male, possibly Hispanic, who is believed to be between 25-40 years old. He is often seen wearing a button-down dress shirt, a sports jersey, or a sweatshirt and a baseball hat. There is no information about a vehicle he may be driving to the bank ATM machines.
Late last week, Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division investigators were contacted by a security representative for Sandy Spring Bank. Information and evidence was provided to State Police about the suspect and the method of operation he uses to obtain account information of ATM customers and then clone that information onto fraudulent bank cards.
Evidence indicates the suspect is inserting into ATM machines a discrete device that records the magnetic strip information on the card. An overhead camera, also installed by the suspect at the ATM, is believed to be recording each customer’s password. Once the information is stolen, it can be used to make unauthorized transactions. Police believe the amount of money stolen at this time is more than $100,000. The suspect is believed to be operating in multiple counties in Maryland and possibly in one or more surrounding states. Skimming and data security are said to be industry-wide challenges and other banks in the region have reportedly been impacted by similar events in recent months.
Maryland State Police investigators are being assisted in this search by agents from Homeland Security Investigations. State Police are joining with investigations involving similar circumstances already being conducted by the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office, Howard County Police, Anne Arundel County Police and Montgomery County Police.
Sandy Spring Bank is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the identification and arrest of the suspect. Anyone with information is urged to contact the 24-hour tip line at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center at 1-800-492-TIPS.
Citizens are reminded to guard their banking information and personal passwords vigorously. We encourage you to be vigilant and to take steps to protect your information.
•Review your account statements regularly and promptly report any errors.
•Request a new PIN and change it regularly to safeguard against unauthorized ATM and debit card usage.
•Cover the keypad with your other hand to block another person or a camera from viewing your PIN entry.
•Never provide your card information to anyone over the phone when you did not initiate the call.
•Sign up for text or email alerts to inform you when a change in your account occurs, such as low balance or irregular account activity.
•Keep your PIN separate from your card.
•Be aware of ATMs that appear to have been altered. If anything on the front of the machine looks crooked, loose or damaged, it could be a sign that someone attached a skimming device.
•Notify your bank immediately if your card is retained or gets stuck in any ATM machine, so your card can be blocked.
•Provide your bank with your updated phone numbers, so you can be contacted if suspicious activity is detected.
The investigation is continuing.