Fraud totals nearly $300K at Comerica ATMs

DETROIT (AP) -- Crooks have stolen nearly $300,000 by installing high-tech gadgets on Comerica Bank ATMs and gleaning personal information off customer cards, federal authorities said last Friday.

The details were disclosed in a criminal complaint filed against Richard Vasquez, a Detroit man who was caught on surveillance video and admitted he installed and removed so-called skimmers at Comerica ATMs in the Detroit area, the U.S. Secret Service said.

Skimmers are not obvious to an ATM user. They record information off ATM cards and even capture numbers punched into the key pad to make transactions.

Counterfeit cards were made with the information and then used for cash withdrawals, the Secret Service said. The Detroit-area fraud began in April but has popped up elsewhere in the country.

"The current losses associated with this scheme total $287,065.57," agent Scott Klein said in a court filing.

Vasquez was released on bond. No attorney is listed yet in the court file. He told Klein he would take the skimmer to an accomplice to create counterfeit cards, which were used to withdraw $1,500 per card.

"We're working with customers whose accounts were impacted to address this issue and make them whole. ... The use of skimming devices has accelerated here in Michigan as well as across the nation over the past several years," Comerica spokeswoman Kathleen Pitton said.

Published: Tue, Jul 17, 2012