The Weather Outside is Frightful

by lg0p89

Scene:  Desolate, quiet bank branch.  Near dusk.  Even the rabbits are quiet.

A driver pulls up to the bank's ATM, just like any of the other thousands who have over the decades.  There is nothing unusual so far.  Since it is at dusk, the driver's headlights are automatically on.

Every ATM has a camera mounted internal to the faceplate.  This camera records the image of the [type of vehicle redacted intentionally] pulling up and the driver and passenger looking at the ATM.  The headlights light the area very well (thank you).

Bad Behavior

Now it gets interesting.  I bet you know where this is going.  The window is rolled down via the electric motor in the door.  The driver, who has elected to give the camera an even better view, installs a skimmer initially.  This took a bit of effort.  The next step was to install a camera looking down onto the keyboard.  From the video, it appears this went pretty smoothly.  Overall, the passenger and driver were there for over three minutes.  The driver leaves, but drives back around a few minutes later.  He does not slow down much at the ATM, but just drives through to apparently verify the equipment is still attached and to examine his handiwork.  The ATM is still capturing images.  Normally the bank would not have been aware of this.  The equipment was installed, hundreds of people use the ATM, the alleged deviant returns in the middle of the night and retrieves his items, and no one is the wiser until the funds start to dissipate across the globe from the unsuspecting customer accounts.

About this time of year in the northern states, it tends to get a bit chilly in the evenings and there may be more humidity in the air.  When the camera was put in place, it was one of these evenings when it was cold.  The temperature did not truly allow a good, quality seal between the equipment and the faceplate of the ATM.  They say haste makes waste.  It still does, but this instance was to the bank's advantage.

After the alleged deviant left his wares, a customer came through and attempted to use the ATM.  The skimmer was not lined up correctly.

It was ever so slightly off.  The customer tried to use his card, but he had a problem as it was being returned to him.  The card was jammed in between the actual ATM and the skimmer.  The customer was naturally unhappy since the machine took his card and he did not have any money yet.  In a fit of primordial rage, the customer began to hit the ATM until his card was released.  In the process, the camera fell off the machine.  The client was worried he was going to get in trouble and came in Monday morning to turn in what he thought he broke off the ATM.  He was very sorry - and we were very surprised and then happy.  So, without the cold and a truly irritated customer, the issue could have been much bigger.

Later in the weekend, a person came to the ATM and pulled off the skimmer.  Unfortunately for him, it was clearly during the daylight hours and his hoodie did not cover his face.  Naturally, the police were called and images turned over to them for analysis.  They probably will be turned over to the state police to have the images cleaned up further.  Their software is so much better.  The quality of the images will be as good as high school graduation pictures!

Lessons Learned

Always be wary when you use an ATM - even if this is one you use every other day of the week in a smaller town.  If something does not look right, it probably is not.  Just use the sniff test.  If it smells like poo, it probably is.  This really should be used as a teaching opportunity.

The preceding is not exactly a coding miracle.  It is merely two guys who bought two pieces of equipment on the Internet.  At your next presentation for your monthly employee meeting, tell the non-techs about this and how easily they can be duped.  When you start to get the deer-in-the-headlights look, talk to them about how much of a headache they personally can have replacing their debit or credit card, waiting for the new card, filling out affidavits - or how their credit card numbers and personal information were being sold in a block of hundreds of others for abuse.  If they still don't quite understand the potential impact, just remember one of my favorite sayings and smile on the inside: You Can't Fix Stupid.