Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Skimmer device turned Holiday ATM into cash cow for thieves

HOLIDAY — On Friday, Bank of America workers noticed that the ATM at their branch was scratched and covered in what appeared to be a gluey residue. Authorities were called to investigate, and they found something unnerving:

Over several nights this month, a thief or thieves placed a device — called a skimmer — on the ATM to read and copy card numbers. Such information from skimmers is then transferred onto cloned credit cards and used to withdraw cash at other ATMs.

The investigation has just begun, but 44 victims have been identified so far, with more than $26,000 stolen from their Bank of America accounts, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.

"We think it's an organized group," said Detective John Suess with the Sheriff's Office's economic crimes unit. Skimmer crimes are not uncommon in Pasco, although Suess said this might be one of the largest ones, in terms of victims and cash stolen.

He said it appears that the skimmer was placed on the walk-up ATM at the Bank of America at 4539 Bartelt Road in the late evening and then removed in the early morning on several occasions this month. Suess said the theory is that the skimmer wouldn't be as noticeable to customers at night — though it might not have been noticeable during the day, depending on which type of machine was used.

Suess said some new skimmers are sophisticated and can be difficult to see if a person isn't already on guard for them.

How can people protect themselves from becoming victims?

Suess suggested that customers use ATMs that are inside banks or use the indoor or drive-through teller service.

Christina Beyer Toth, a spokeswoman for Bank of America, said all of the bank's customers are protected against unauthorized transactions on their accounts.

"We encourage customers to be extra vigilant and notify a banking center employee if there is something unusual about an ATM or their transaction," Beyer Toth said in a statement. She also urged customers to routinely monitor their bank accounts.

Suess said the information from the cards was used to withdraw cash throughout the Tampa Bay area. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office is working the case with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office and the Clearwater Police Department, Suess said.

"We do anticipate this is going to grow," Suess said of the case.

"There's no telling where they are now," Suess said of the suspects, "if they are even local."

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

.Got a tip?

Where to call

Anyone with information about the thefts is asked to call Detective John Suess toll-free at 1-800-854-2862. Information can be left anonymously on the sheriff's toll-free tips line at 1-800-706-2488.

Skimmer device turned Holiday ATM into cash cow for thieves 08/30/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 30, 2011 8:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning captain Steven Stamkos was curious how he would feel — and perform — in Friday's exhibition against Nashville, his first game since mid-November knee surgery.

    The Lightning’s Alex Killorn, left, makes his preseason debut and has an assist in a 3-1 win against the Predators at Amalie Arena.
  2. Steven Souza Jr. vindicating big trade for Rays

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — There was a time when the three-team, 11-player transaction the Rays orchestrated to get Steven Souza Jr. from the Nationals looked liked a bad deal.

    The Rays’ Steven Souza Jr. has 30 home runs this season while improving his defense and baserunning but wants to improve on his .236 batting average.
  3. Fennelly: Lightning's Manon Rheaume made history 25 years ago Saturday

    Lightning Strikes

    The name is part of Lightning history, hockey history, sports history.

    Lightning goalie Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in an NHL game 25 years ago today.
  4. Investigators reviewing HHS chief's private charter flights


    WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price's recent use of costly charter flights on the taxpayers' dime for official business.

  5. FSU gives president John Thrasher a pay bump as its academic standing rises


    TALLAHASSEE — With Florida State University moving closer to becoming a top-25 public university, the school's trustees on Friday bumped up President John Thrasher's salary by 7 percent and awarded him a $200,000 bonus.

    Florida State University President John Thrasher, center, is surrounded by lawmakers in 2016 as he visits the Florida Senate. Thrasher on Friday received a pay increase to go with the university's increased academic standing, including in the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of public universities. FSU ranks 33rd this year, and is aiming for a top-25 spot. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]