Washington's top law enforcer victim of new crime trend

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by CHRIS INGALLS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

KING5.com

Posted on September 2, 2011 at 4:40 PM

Updated Saturday, Sep 3 at 10:48 AM

SEATTLE -- The growing crime trend known as “skimming” has snared Western Washington’s top law enforcer.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan confirms to KING 5 that her bank account was robbed in August after thieves stole her debit card information.

“When it happens to you…you really feel victimized and you think, ‘Boy, I wish I’d been smarter that time,'” she said.

ATM “skimmers” are sophisticated enough that they can even trick someone like Durkan, the chair of the Justice Department’s Cybercrime Subcommittee.

“The thieves are very clever,” she said. “What they’ve done is created devices they just slip over ATM machines, gas station machines, anywhere that takes a credit card.”

Durkan said she didn’t notice an ATM she used last month was outfitted with a credit card reader, also known as a skimmer, and a hidden camera to record the ATM keypad as she entered her PIN. The criminals mount the hardware so it looks just like the parts on the ATM.

“I, of all people, knew better,” said Durkan. She said she was in a hurry and didn’t thoroughly check the machine, as she usually does.

With Durkan’s account information and PIN, the thieves stole $1000 from her account before her bank caught on.

Skimming has become common enough that Durkan recommends ATM users check the machine carefully for any loose parts, signs or mirrors that could hide a hidden camera, or any other irregularities. Users should also cover the keypad with their free hand when entering a PIN.

There have been no arrests in Durkan’s case. 

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