Cowlitz County investigators said thieves stole tens of thousands of dollars from the credit union accounts of at least 82 people.
Bank surveillance cameras captured the images of men using fake cards that had real accounts and pin numbers attached, police said. The men hit ATMs at Fibre Federal Credit Union, Onpoint, Red Canoe, Twinstar and Lower Columbia Longshoremen’s Federal Credit Union.
The suspects took $500 in cash from customers' accounts, sometimes making multiple withdrawals on the same account, according to police. The total amount stolen could be more than $40,000.
How did they do it?
“We haven’t identified that it was a skimmer but we strongly suspect it was a skimmer,” said Detective Sergeant Chris Blanchard from Longview Police.
A skimmer is a device used at self-pay gas stations or other locations where customers use debit and credit cards.
The skimmer records the magnetic strip which holds your account details. A second device sometimes records the pin you enter.
That's why police say we should all change those pin numbers often.
“It could be a year from now and they have that data still. So if you change your pin, yearly, quarterly something like that, that can go a long way to preventing that,” Blanchard said.
Without the pin, the crooks cannot get cash from the ATM.
Police say so far, all the victims are in Cowlitz county.
Blanchard says he is intent on catching the crooks.
“That’s a rude awakening and a real Grinch-like thing to do from thieves in December,” he said.