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NewsChannel 9 uncovers the skimming scheme at 15 Walmart stores




SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV) — After days of gathering 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 spanned Central New York, the Southern Tier and across state lines into Maine, involving three suspects who installed multiple skimming devices over existing credit card scanners.

The following Walmart locations were affected by the skimming scheme:

  • Auburn
  • Camillus
  • Canandaigua
  • Central Square
  • Cortlandville
  • East Syracuse
  • Geneva
  • Granby
  • Ithaca
  • Johnson City
  • Oswego
  • Painted post
  • Waterloo
  • Sanford, Maine
  • Windham, Maine

Each store is working on its own police investigation, but officers sharing information have found surveillance footage that shows the masterminds are the same in all the cases.

Although some law enforcement agencies are coordinating information sharing, the state police, FBI or Secret Service have not yet taken over individual investigations.

Was my information stolen?

The police have not yet confirmed any victims as a result of any cases, but the process could take months.

Walmart customers, especially those who paid by credit card in the targeted register lanes, should keep a close eye on their credit card statements and report unauthorized charges to their financial institution and local law enforcement.

Once people have taken the critical steps to notify the bank and police, they can email NewsChannel 9’s Your Stories (YourStories@LocalSYR.com).

The police have given the following register numbers affected by the unit and the time period it could have collected information.

SHOP
PLACEMENT
THE GOAL
REGISTER
UNIT
INSTALLED
UNIT
FOUND
Auburn #2 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Camillus #5 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Canandaigua #15 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Central Square #1 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Cortlandville #2 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
East Syracuse #6 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Geneva #1. 3 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Granby #7 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Ithaca Not shared Wednesday 5 July Not shared
Johnson City #11 Wednesday 5 July Saturday 8 July
Oswego #1 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Painted post #5 Monday 3 July Not shared
Waterloo #10 Sunday 2 July Wednesday 5 July
Sanford, Maine Not shared Tuesday, July 4 Not shared
Windham, Maine Not shared Tuesday, July 4 Not shared
Source: Local police departments via NewsChannel 9

What is credit card skimming?

Credit card skimming is the act of stealing people’s credit card information when they use their card at a trusted 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 mobile phone or Bluetooth.

Devices can steal the credit card number, the person’s name, security code and even keyboard entries.

What does this skimmer look like?

It looks exactly like the credit card terminal that most Walmart stores have at each register, which is why it’s an easy scam to fall for.

Oswego police provided a photo of the exact device seized by officers.

NewsChannel 9 uncovers the skimming scheme at 15 Walmart stores

What did the police find?

As for the machine, the State Police Computer Crimes Unit found that the device was battery powered and could capture keystroke information.

Investigators are not sure if the most vulnerable swipe cards were targeted or if the machine was advanced enough to steal chip card information as well.

State police investigators discovered that the devices have a Bluetooth-compatible antenna. Which means the stolen information could have been transmitted in real time, but investigators won’t know until a victim is confirmed.

Who are the suspects?

Each investigative agency has obtained surveillance footage showing the suspects, who appear to be the same two men and a woman.

The footage shows the three at a check-out register together. A man has the cashier’s attention with a purchase, as the person in the middle pulls the device out of a purse or pocket and easily attaches it. The woman’s back shields the attempted crime from other customers.

The police are asking for the public’s help in identifying the two men and a woman.

How do I protect myself in the future?

Shoppers can change how they pay to increase shopping security. Mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay and Android Pay are the most secure because the device does not 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 the magnetic swipe cards, which are the most vulnerable.

Debit card users should always use the credit option to protect their bank accounts.

When it comes to finding a fraudulent device, police suggest looking for cracks or missing parts and are encouraged to lift the machine to make sure it’s genuine.



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