GREENWICH VILLAGE — A Bank of America customer got more than cash when she tried to use a Bleecker Street ATM recently — a device designed to steal her card details came off in her hand as she inserted her card, police said.
Amazingly, the man who planted the identity stealing technology then appeared — and asked for it back.
The woman, 23, told police her card got stuck in the door swipe at the bank's branch at 184 Bleecker St. at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 18.
When she pulled the card out, a false facade fell off revealing the real card slot behind it.
The man suspected of sticking the card reader in place appeared and tried to get it back, the Sixth Precinct's commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo, said at a community meeting.
"She picked [the device up] and was looking at it, and — she's no dummy — some guy came up to her and said, 'Can I have that back?'" del Pozo said.
"She said, 'Absolutely not' and growled at him," he said.
The woman left the bank and called police, losing sight of the man.
When officers arrived, they found three identity theft devices at the branch, where there are two ATMs but no staffers.
Police said the device on the bank's door was being used to capture bank card numbers. Two other devices disguised as panels alongside the ATMs' screens used pinpoint cameras to capture the PINs that card users entered, del Pozo said.
Fraudsters use such devices, which are known as skimmers, to access card-users' accounts, make purchases and withdraw cash.
"Skimming is the middle ground between physically robbing a bank and hacking into an account over a computer network," del Pozo said.
"The level of craftsmanship, electronic facility and brazenness is amazing," he said about the devices, which DNAinfo photographed at the Sixth Precinct.
Whether the mechanisms were able to capture bank card data before they were found, or were used in other locations, is under investigation, police said.
Bank of America spokesman T.J. Crawford declined to comment on the incident but assured card users they would be advised if skimming had been reported anywhere they had used their bank cards.
"We proactively reach out to customers who may have been affected [by skimming] in order to block existing cards and issue new ones," he said.
Bank of America reimburses fraud victims for unauthorized transactions on their accounts, Crawford added.
Del Pozo advised bank users to cover ATM keypads when entering PINs, regularly review transaction histories for unauthorized purchases and tell police about any potential fraud.
"Don't confront anyone you think may be out to steal your information at an ATM or other public setting," he said. "Instead, report suspicious activity immediately to the police and then to the financial institution concerned."
Sixth Precinct police are seeking two male suspects in connection with the incident. The first is about 40, stands 5 feet 10 inches tall, and weighs 170 pounds. The second male is about 30, stands 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighs 160 pounds, police said.
The two suspects face felony forgery charges and up to 15 years in prison.