ATM Skimming Series Uncovered in San Diego

An ATM skimmer is a device criminals use to steal debit card information as users enter it.

A man is in custody, accused of stealing information from thousands of bank cards that resulted in a loss of almost $500,000 from Wells Fargo bank.

Federal authorities say his arrest is part of a series of ATM skimming incidents in San Diego County.

Atef Alkhateeb, 42, is accused of inserting digital devices called "skimmers" into Wells Fargo ATM card slots and then using the devices to read and steal information from customers' bank cards.

“Pretty scary,” said Wells Fargo ATM customer Anne Sunzeri. “I depend on them to be accurate and not take my money when it's not authorized.”

Authoritized or not, Homeland security investigators say skimming incidents in San Diego and nationwide have reached "epidemic proportions" and that "customers need to be more vigilant."

Investigators say there have been at least 29 incidents in and around the county from January last year up to March this year...

Federal investigators say Alkhateeb appears to be the man responsible for all of them, resulting in nearly 5,000 compromised cards and a loss of nearly $500,000 from Wells Fargo.

In a statement the company said in part..."Wells Fargo continues working in cooperation with law enforcement on this case. The security of our customers' accounts and information is our priority."

The company thinks there are significantly more losses connected to this activity because it is still receiving unauthorized charge claims from customers.

Some advice for consumers: Use machines in well lit, highly trafficked areas and cover the keypad while entering pin numbers to prevent cameras from capturing that data.

Experts suggest tugging at different parts of the machine to see if anything moves.

And customers should make it a habit to check their bank account statement regularly.

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