SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After days of collecting information from multiple police departments, NewsChannel 9 has found a total of 15 Walmart stores were targeted as part of an interstate and four-day skimming scheme.
The attempted fraud spans Central New York, the Southern Tier and over state borders into Maine, involving three suspects who installed multiple skimming devices over existing credit card scanners.
The following Walmart locations were hit by the skimming scheme:
- Central Square
- East Syracuse
- Johnson City
- Painted Post
- Sanford, Maine
- Windham, Maine
Each store is dealing with its own police department investigation, but officers exchanging information have found surveillance footage to show the culprits are the same in all the cases.
Despite some police agencies coordinating information sharing, State Police, the FBI or Secret Service have not yet taken over the individual investigations.
Was my information stolen?
Police haven’t confirmed any victims resulting from any cases at this time, but the process can take months.
Walmart customers, especially those who paid with credit cards in the targeted register lanes, should keep a watchful eye on their credit card statements and report unauthorized charges to their financial institution and local police.
Once people have taken the critical steps of informing their bank and police, they can email NewsChannel 9’s Your Stories (YourStories@LocalSYR.com).
Police have provided the following register numbers impacted by the device and the time period in which it could have been collecting information.
|Auburn||#2||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Camillus||#5||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Canandaigua||#15||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Central Square||#1||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Cortlandville||#2||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|East Syracuse||#6||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Geneva||#13||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Granby||#7||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Ithaca||Not Shared||Wednesday, July 5||Not Shared|
|Johnson City||#11||Wednesday, July 5||Saturday, July 8|
|Oswego||#1||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Painted Post||#5||Monday, July 3||Not Shared|
|Waterloo||#10||Sunday, July 2||Wednesday, July 5|
|Sanford, Maine||Not Shared||Tuesday, July 4||Not Shared|
|Windham, Maine||Not Shared||Tuesday, July 4||Not Shared|
What is credit card skimming?
Credit card skimming is the act of stealing people’s credit card information when they use their cards at a credible point of sale.
The devices vary in appearance and technology but are usually a device that sits on top of an existing credit card scanner, with a similar keypad and markings, to steal account information from unsuspecting customers.
Older devices would hold the stolen information until the suspect returned for it.
New devices can transmit the stolen data via cell phone or Bluetooth.
Devices can steal the credit card number, a person’s name, security code and even keypad entries.
What does this skimmer look like?
It looks exactly like the credit card terminal most Walmart stores have at each register, which is why it’s an easy scam to be fooled by.
Oswego Police provided a photo of the exact device seized by officers.
What have police found?
In terms of the machine, the State Police Computer Crimes unit found the device was battery-powered and could capture keypad entry information.
Investigators aren’t sure if the most-vulnerable swipe cards were targeted or if the machine was advanced enough to steal chip card information too.
State Police Investigators discovered the devices do have a Bluetooth-capable antenna. That which means the stolen information could have been transmitted in real-time, but investigators won’t know that until a victim is confirmed.
Who are the suspects?
Each investigating agency has pulled surveillance footage that shows the suspects, which appear to be the same two men and one woman.
The footage shows the three at a check-out register together. One man has the cashier’s attention with a purchase, as the person in the middle pulls the device out of a bag or pocket and attaches it with ease. The woman’s back shields the attempted crime from other customers.
Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the two men and one woman.
How do I protect myself in the future?
Shoppers can change how they pay to increase shopping security. Mobile wallet services like Apple Pay and Android Pay are the safest because the device doesn’t touch the terminal and each transaction is unique.
Tap-to-pay cards are also among the safest options.
Cards with chip technology are better than magnetic swipe cards, which are the most vulnerable.
Debit card users should always use the credit option to protect their bank accounts.
In terms of finding a fraudulent device, police suggest looking for cracks or loose pieces and are encouraged to lift the machine to make sure it’s real.