EAST HARLEM — A scammer turned a chicken joint's ATM machine into a personal piggy bank, swiping $12,000, according to police.
The cash machine at Crown Fried Chicken at 1867 Lexington Ave. was rigged over the last two months to shell out four times more money than it was asked to withdraw, police said.
The fraudster manipulated the machine’s software so that, using a welfare benefits card, it gave out about $12,000 from the machine between April 15 and June 12, according to the NYPD. It was unclear how many people were involved in the scam.
Last week, when the owner was checking the machine's software, he noticed that someone had reprogrammed it to dispense $20 bills even though it was registering them as $5 bills, police said.
“How can someone change the machine like that?” said Bary Mamdou, who works at the fried chicken restaurant. “The owner [of the ATM] came in and said someone took a lot of money.”
The machine was off for a couple of days but was up and running Monday morning.
The ATM’s owner could not be reached for comment.
Mamdou said a lot of people use the restaurant’s ATM every day but he did not notice any suspicious activity.
While the machine is popular with customers, Mamdou said he doesn’t use it.
“I like to go into the bank to get my money,” he said. “I don’t like having to pay extra.”