Secret Service Takes Over "Skimmer" Investigation in Aspen

Jan 21, 2014

Thieves placed a "skimmer" on an Aspen ATM at Wells Fargo Bank. Police removed the device on Monday and are recommending people who used the ATM, to monitor their bank accounts.
Credit Aspen Police Department

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating the possible theft of ATM user information from a bank in Aspen. On Monday, police discovered a “skimmer” on an ATM at Wells Fargo Bank. Thieves use the device to read data strips on bank cards. A small camera was also attached to the ATM to record when people punched in their ID numbers.

This kind of fraud has happened in Aspen before but this is the first time law enforcement was able to retrieve the skimmer before thieves removed it. Blair Weyer is a spokesperson for the Aspen Police Department.

"So, it’s the first time we’ve really had the skimmer in our hands, so the secret service will be taking a look at that, taking a look at the chips that were in there, the different storage devices, so they might be able to more information on how many people were impacted, how long the skimmer’s been in place."

Skimmer in close up
Credit Aspen Police Department

The skimmer looks like a replica of parts of the ATM and, in this case, the tiny camera was set just above where the bills come out of the machine. The sophisticated skimmer could likely be installed by thieves in less than a minute.

With X Games coming to town, Weyer says the discovery early this week, likely kept lots of people from being scammed.

"I think we got very lucky that we noticed this, you can just imagine the hundreds, potentially thousands of people that are probably going to use those ATM’s in the next week or so," Weyer said.

In the future, the police department may encourage banks to monitor ATM’s and have officers check the machines intermittently. For now, she says people who used their card at the Aspen Wells Fargo ATM should monitor their bank accounts, change their pin number and get a new card.

This isn’t the first ATM fraud case in Aspen. In December of 2012, thousands of dollars were stolen in an Aspen ATM scam. That year nearly 150 ATM thefts were reported.  In February of last year more than  $20,000 were stolen by three thieves using a card scanning device.