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BEAR, Del. -- Two automated teller machines (ATM) at a Wawa convenience store here were rigged to retain the card numbers and personal codes of every user, so that thieves using an increasingly popular identity-theft technique could pilfer their accounts, according to a report by The News Journal.
The modifications to the machines were discovered after a customer used an ATM card last Friday at the Wawa store at Pulaski Highway and Salem Church Road, and the next day, discovered his account was overdrawn and contacted the store manager, Delaware State Police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Whitmarsh told the newspaper.
The manager checked the machines, discovered skimming inserts attached to the card swipers on both ATMs, and contacted state police. Investigators are now trying to determine how widespread the problem is and how many customers may have had their bank accounts compromised, the report stated.
"No one knows how long it was there or how many people used it," Whitmarsh said. "Think about how many people go to Wawa and use the ATM machines every day."
Wawa spokeswoman Lori Bruce said the Bear store appears to be the only one of its more than 570 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia to be involved. All of the chain's other stores were notified electronically and given photos of the skimming device so they could be on the lookout for anything similar. "We believe it's an isolated incident," Bruce said. "We have no reason to believe there are others."
"We're on heightened alert at all our stores in other states," Bruce said. Ensuring the safety of customers, including ATM users, is a top priority for the stores, she noted. Thefts in the stores are rare, she added, because they are so busy.
A skimmer is an electronic device that can be affixed to legitimate ATMs to capture customers' card numbers and the personal identification numbers encoded on the cards' magnetic strips. The thieves then clone the cards with the encoded information and withdraw money at will from the victims' bank accounts, the Journal said.
Police are warning anyone who may have used the ATM machine at Salem Run to check their bank accounts for any irregularities or fraudulent withdrawals.