Kirkland police join local agencies in warning: Beware of “Parking Lot ATM Bandits”
September 13, 2012 · Updated 4:27 PM
The Kirkland Police Department joins the Bellevue, Everett, Milton/Edgewood, Seattle, and Tacoma Police Departments and the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) in warning local communities about a fraud scheme by a group of individuals dubbed the “Parking Lot ATM Bandits.”
The group, consisting of at least four suspects, is believed to be looking over customers’ shoulders while checking out at grocery stores to obtain their Personal Identification Number (PIN).
This is exactly what happened to a Kirkland woman at the Safeway on the corner of N.E. 85th Street and 126th Avenue N.E. on July 15. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, went to the grocery store, bought her items and met her husband who was reading a book while he waited.
"I never saw anybody look at me," she said. "I've been going to Safeway for 10 years."
As victims enter their automobile, the suspects approach, show them a map and ask for directions. The suspects pretend not to speak English and while receiving directions, another suspect sneaks into the victim’s purse to obtain and skim the ATM card before putting it back.
The woman experienced the same approach but the second suspect encountered her husband.
"I tried to close the door but the man kept pushing his map," she said.
But still, it was too late. After the encounter, she got a call from the credit union saying that $1,500 had been taken out in Kirkland, Burien and Seattle over two days.
The “Parking Lot ATM Bandits” clone a card and use it to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account via an ATM. The victims never suspect their bank card has been compromised since they still have their card. Victims are typically older women, but in several cases the victims have been older men.
The cases are currently being investigated by the United States Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) and the above local law enforcement agencies. Anyone with additional information regarding this case or the suspects should call Detective Don Carroll of the Kirkland Police Department/ ECTF at 206-654-5722 or the U.S. Secret Service Seattle Field Office at (206) 553-1922. ATM card users are reminded to keep their PIN private and to shield the keypad when entering it.
Slide show depicts ATM photographic images of the suspected “Bandit” members making cash withdrawals using the victim’s skimmed debit card numbers and PINs:
Suspect 1: Appears to be Hispanic/ Eastern European, early 30’s, believed to beinside the grocery store as well as the individual who approaches vehicle.
Suspect 2: Older white male, may wear prescription eyewear, thick Russian accent.
Suspect 3: (No photo) Petite Latina/ Eastern European female, speaks fluent English and Spanish
Suspect 4: Latino/ Eastern European male. In one case the suspect stood behind a customer while she was at an ATM and then followed her around the store before she was approached in the parking lot.