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Fairfax Co. police investigating whether Herndon ATM skimmer is connected to other cases

Scammers installed skimmer device at Herndon ATM, police say (photo courtesy of Herndon Police).
Scammers installed skimmer device at Herndon ATM, police say (photo courtesy of Herndon Police).
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Seven News is learning new details about a skimming device recently discovered and removed from an ATM in Fairfax County.

Herndon Police put out a warning about the device earlier this week.

Now, Fairfax County Police are assisting with the investigation and working to determine whether the Herndon case is connected to other skimming incidents that have been reported throughout the county.

"This is a little bit of a sophisticated piece of equipment that someone would be using to get your information," said Lt. James Curry with the Fairfax County Police Department. "And we have had other incident reports from people who realized after the fact that they were likely the victim of one of these skimming type devices."

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According to investigators, the skimming device in Herndon was found on an ATM located inside a 7/11 store on Van Buren Street.

"We have determined that it's been there since probably mid-April, which is a long time," said Curry, adding that the skimming device was removed from that location late last week. "Certainly it brings the question, how many victims?"

Curry said they don't yet know the answer to that question, but 7News did speak to one of the victims in the Herndon case.

"I got my bank card hit and I got a credit card hit," said Bill Torpey, who believes the fraudulent activity showed up on his accounts not long after he got cash out from the ATM inside that 7/11 store.

Herndon Police shared images of the skimmer that was removed, saying it included a panel containing a pinhole camera that records you entering your PIN number, while another device reads your card number.

"One of the cards, they notified me, it was hit eight times for $60 a piece, and the other one also notified me, it was $400 and $200," Torpey said. "It's awful."

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Authorities are asking people to be diligent when using ATM machines. Always use a hand to cover the pad when entering your PIN number.

If you notice a camera, contact police right away.

"Our detectives have found that a lot of these machines that have these skimmer devices are third party ATMs," Curry said. "So what I mean by that is not at your traditional bank. Banks usually have a lot of security measures in place that might deter or prevent someone from going there and placing a skimming device onto it."

He said using bank ATMs rather than ATMS found inside convenience stores another way people try to protect themselves from this type of theft.

Fairfax County police said skimming activity is "current and prevalent" throughout the county and the entire country. In fact, they said one skimmer collected might reveal thousands of skimmed card numbers and multiple jurisdictions where the cash-outs occur.

Torpey said he's now working with his bank to make sure the fraudulent charges are all refunded.

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"I'm mad! I always look, I'm a suspicious guy and I'm always looking for stuff like that," he said. "But there's this little tiny camera and I never saw it. So from now on, I'm going to be more cautious."

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