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Man convicted of fraud for skimming data from local ATMs
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Turlock residents who saw unexplained withdraws to their bank accounts prompted an investigation that led to the arrest and conviction of a Modesto man who had been using the practice of skimming to gain access to the accounts.

Ales Adamek, 33, of Modesto was convicted of several fraud-related felonies related to an ATM card skimming scheme, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced.

A card skimmer is an illegal device that criminals attach to card readers at ATMs and point-of-sale terminals. Criminals can use the data captured from the magnetic strip to steal the victim’s identity or create fake debit, credit, or Electronic Benefits Transfer cards that can be used to make purchases and steal the victim’s money or benefits. The other part of the crime involves placing a small camera in the vicinity to capture the personal identification numbers. Card skimmers can be hard to detect because they are designed to blend into the terminal.

The investigation into the skimming activity began in Turlock when several residents reported that money was stolen from their bank accounts. 

Turlock Police Detective Nathan Urban has been on the heels of these skimmers that are set up in Turlock and began looking into these reports. It was discovered that Adamek installed card skimmer devices and pinhole cameras on bank ATMs at several locations in the Turlock area. Adamek used the account information to create fraudulent ATM cards and then used the fraudulent cards to withdraw money from the victims’ bank accounts.

Bank ATMS located outside tend to be the preferred location for skimmers.

“They want some place where they [the criminals] can have some privacy and time to set up their skimmers and cameras,” Urban said.

There are a few tips to help avoid using a terminal with a skimmer attached:

·         Visually and physically inspect ATMs and POS machines before swiping or inserting your card. Does it wiggle or seem loose? If so, do not swipe or insert your card, notify the business and local law enforcement.

·     -    Cover the keypad when you enter your PIN, and never share your PIN with anyone.

·     -    Use a chip-enabled card if you have one.

·     -    Use contactless-enabled cards or phones for safe and easy payments by tapping your card or phone on a contactless-enabled payment terminal.

·     -    Sign up for notifications or alerts for your bank and credit card transactions, and you will receive a notification or alert whenever your card is used.

·     -    Pay with cash whenever possible.

·      -   POS/ATM terminals in tourist areas are popular targets for skimming devices. Be extra cautious in these areas.

Adamek was sentenced to 32 months in local prison and was ordered to pay restitution.

“These investigations are not easy but they are rewarding when they pay out with a conviction,” Urban said.