Syracuse, NY – Four credit card skimmers designed to steal customer information have been found at four different Walmart stores in Central New York, according to local police.
The devices were secretly placed in the boxes and not found for four days over the July 4 holiday weekend, police said.
The card skimming devices were found at the following stores: Camillus, East Syracuse, Auburn and Fulton.
Related article: How to avoid falling victim to credit card skimmers like those found at CNY Walmarts
Walmart has declined to answer questions about the skimmers or provide information on how many customers passed through those checkout lanes. The spokesman instead referred questions to the local police.
The devices were installed on July 2 and discovered on July 5, police said.
Police agencies working on the case include New York State Police, Camillus Police, DeWitt Police and Auburn Police.
DeWitt Police, Camillus Police and Auburn Police spokesmen said they are looking for three people — two men and a woman — suspected of installing the devices at various Walmart locations on July 2.
The suspects are believed to have a gray or light blue minivan, police said.
Lt. Jerry Pace, a DeWitt police spokesman, said the device found in East Syracuse was placed over the card reader at checkout lane 6 when the teller was distracted. A store manager was notified of the reader found in Fulton and found it in his store.
The devices are made to look identical to the front of a card reader, said Capt. James Nightingale, a Camillus Police spokesman. He said the devices can easily be lifted from the top of the card reader.
Camillus police were notified of the device found in Camillus by Walmart employees, Nightingale said. He said employees told police they were told to check all their card readers by Walmart corporate office representatives. The device was found in checkout lane 5.
Customers who shopped at one of the four locations between July 2 and July 5 are being urged by police to check their credit card and bank statements to watch for fraudulent charges.
State police do not know if any customers had their information compromised at the Granby/Fulton Walmart, said Trooper Jack Keller, a state police spokesman. The skimmer was on checkout lane 7 at the Granby/Fulton Walmart.
Auburn, Camillus, Dewitt and state police have not heard from anyone who has had a fraudulent charge as of Friday.
Some skimming devices have Bluetooth capabilities that allow criminals to steal information remotely, while others must be retrieved to collect the data.
Keller said troopers aren’t sure if the device they found at the Fulton store is Bluetooth-capable.
Skimming occurs when devices illegally installed on ATMs, POS terminals or fuel pumps capture data or record cardholders’ PINs, Keller said.
Criminals use the data to create fake debit or credit cards and steal from victims’ accounts. It is estimated that skimming costs financial institutions and consumers more than $1 billion each year.
It is unusual for a skimming device to be installed in such a public place. Typically, criminals target ATMs or registers in areas with less light or fewer people around, Keller said.
“That’s pretty brave,” he said.
If you have information about the suspects or suspect you are the victim of fraudulent charges, the police have provided these contact numbers:
- State Police: (315) 598-2112
- Auburn Police: (315)255-4703 or (315)253-3231
- DeWitt Police: (315) 449-3640
Walmart said Friday that customers who believe they may have been affected should contact the Walmart Customer Care Team at 800-925-6278, in addition to contacting their bank.
Walmart also issued a statement Thursday evening in reference to the device found at the store outside of Fulton:
“We have controls in place designed to provide customers with a secure experience and have measures designed to help protect against this type of crime. We are continually improving and reviewing our protocol to better serve and protect customers, and we will continue to to work with the police and refer any further questions to them.”
Staff writer Anne Hayes covers news, crime and public safety. Have a tip, story idea, question or comment? You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.