PHOTOS: Repeat skimming suspect caught on camera putting device on Polk County ATM

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A criminal is installing skimmers on ATM machines in the Tampa Bay area.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the suspect may look young, but he’s a big-time criminal. “Don’t let his looks fool you. He’s very dangerous, and he’s trying to steal your money,” Sheriff Judd said.

The male is suspected of putting skimming devices on at least three SunTrust Bank ATM machines in Florida and South Carolina. Judd released photos Wednesday of the suspect at each location. The man is pictured in Davenport (US 27 & Sand Mine Road) on June 26, St. Augustine on June 10, and Bluffton, South Carolina on June 19.

“He’s coming to a community near you if we don’t arrest him,” Judd said.

A customer found a skimming device on a Manatee County SunTrust ATM Tuesday night, but detectives are still scouring through surveillance footage to see if it’s the same suspect.

The skimming devices are placed over the slot where you insert your card. When people insert their cards, the counterfeit reader copies all of their bank information.

“It’s ridiculous,” said Gary Ashmore who banks at the location hit in Davenport. “People should work for their money and not try to rip other people off. Go out and work and make your living like the rest of us.”

Judd said the traveling crook could be anywhere but he hopes his crime spree comes to an end in Polk County. “I think he should spend some vacation time in Frostproof at the Polk County Jail,” Judd said.

Skimmer facts:

  • Skimmers attach externally to the ATM machine.
  • There is usually a small camera device installed to pick up the pin number.
  • Pin numbers can also be picked up by direct observation (binoculars, etc.).
  • Thieves install the device and come back and pick it up after a few hours or up to a few days.
  • The suspect fits the MO of a traveler.
  • He could be anywhere in the Southeast or Atlantic Coast.
  • The electronic card information is often converted into a cloned card and then either used by the thief or a criminal organization along with the pin number. They are sometimes sold to other thieves.

How to protect yourself: 

  • ALWAYS cover the key pad with one hand while entering your number with the other.
  • Pull or tug on any external part of an ATM where the card is inserted or swiped. If it comes off or seems loose, DO NOT USE the machine and alert your financial institution.
  • Go inside a financial institution or use the free “cash back” feature many retailers have at point of sale registers.

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