St. George Police ask for help identifying suspect using cloned ATM cards

The St. George Police Department is asking for the public's help identifying the man shown in this undated photo. He is believed to be involved in bank card cloning in St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The St. George Police Department is asking for the public’s help identifying a man believed to be involved in using cloned bank cards to withdraw money from an ATM.

An alert posted on the department’s Facebook page Friday shows images of the man captured in surveillance footage taken at an ATM machine.

The St. George Police Department is asking for the public’s help identifying the man shown in this undated photo. He is believed to be involved in bank card cloning in St. George, Utah | Photo courtesy of the St. George Police Department, St. George News

Police believe it wasn’t an isolated incident.

“This is related to several incidents that are connected …,” St. George Police officer Tiffany Atkin wrote in the alert.

Anyone with information that might help police identify the suspect is asked to call Detective Miles at 435-627-4321 and refer to case No. 18P017444.

What is cloning?

According to Investopedia, cloning occurs when stolen credit or debit card information is copied and then transferred to a new card or used to rewrite an existing bank card with the stolen information. It does not require the physical card to be stolen; it only requires that the card be scanned by an electronic device.

The FBI issued an alert to banks in August warning of multiple reports of ATM fraud affecting financial institutions. “Payment card cloning” was a tactic mentioned in the alert, according to Krebs on Security.

Scammers using account information obtained through data breaches, point-of-sale machines or skimming can then create cloned payment cards used at ATMs to withdraw cash. The stolen data is encoded on the magnetic stripe on the back of the card.

Cloned cards don’t have the microchip that’s typically found on most modern bank cards. Any transaction where the cloned card is used should be rejected, but the FBI says not all ATMs check for the microchip and instead read the magnetic strip, allowing the fraudulent transaction to go through.

Scammers typically withdraw large amounts of money from multiple ATMs in a short period of time, taking advantage of holidays and weekends when there is less monitoring by banks and more cash in the machines.

While the alert was intended to protect financial institutions of a large scale operation to defraud ATMs of money, the alert also applies for smaller-scale operations like the one in St. George.

Cyberscout offers three tips to avoid bank card cloning/skimming 

  • Cover the PIN pad: To prevent cameras from taking images of your PIN, cover the PIN pad with your hand as you enter your code, as scammers have been known to use both card readers and pinhole cameras to record the customer’s PIN.
  • Look for bulky ATM components: Before inserting your card, take a moment to inspect the ATM’s components, as bulky parts or components that are not fully attached to the machine could be a sign there is an ATM skimmer present.
  • Use tellers and drive-thru services: Bypass ATMs altogether and use drive-thru teller services, which can also help prevent skimming, as fraudsters often install a card reader when there are not many people around.

This report is based on statements from police and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • LunchboxHero September 10, 2018 at 1:07 pm

    The hat is a real big help, genius. They’ll have this guy in stripes before sundown tomorrow.

  • No Name September 11, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Too bad for society that this loser’s photo isn’t attached to his obituary!

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