It’s Called An ATM ‘Shimmer’ And It Can Read Your Chip Card

Police in Mount Pleasant caught two men installing an ATM shimmer - a device that can read your chip card information.

A razor-thin credit card Shimmer. (Royal Canadian Mounted Police via Krebs on Security)

MOUNT PLEASANT, WI — Authorities in Mount Pleasant say they arrested two men responsible for installing a credit card “shimmer” — a new form of a credit-card skimmer that can read chip cards.

Credit card manufacturers say the use of a chip card makes it harder for fraudsters to steal your identity or your money, though authorities are learning that the criminals are catching up.

According to a criminal complaint field in Mount Pleasant, Vergio-Corneliu Galbenu and Gheorghe Oltean have been accused of installing a “shimmer” at an ATM at the Educator’s Credit Union on 1400 Newman Road.

Police say investigators reviewed surveillance footage recorded at about 9:30 p.m. on July 20. Police say the video showed two men – later identified as Galbenu and Oltean doctoring the ATM machine’s credit card reader.

Investigators watched footage as the two men returned to the same ATM on the morning of July 21. Police say one of the men was seen pulling a plastic cover off the ATM to install the shimming device.

Police say they set up a surveillance operation in the area, and spotted the two men on the night of July 22 as they drove slowly through the nearby Piggly Wiggly parking lot. They were arrested and their vehicle was searched, police say.

According to the criminal complaint, officers found a number of items that were recorded on the surveillance video, including tools used to install the shimming device and a bouquet of flowers that was used to try to obscure the security camera while they doctored the ATM.

If convicted, the two men could each face up to six years behind bars in addition to any fines they may incur. Galbenu is being held in the Racine County Jail on a $5,000 cash bond. His initial appearance in court is scheduled for July 31.

What’s a Shimmer?

According to the Better Business Bureau, credit card shimmers are a razor-thin that is embedded in an ATM’s card slot.

If you visit an ATM with a shimmer, you probably won’t be able to see it installed inside the card slot.

When an ATM customer slides their chip card into the slot, the shimmer collects information stored on the chip and stores it until it can be retrieved by its owner. Authorities say the data that’s collected by the shimmer is then used to create a magnetic stripe version of the card that can be used in in ATMs that have a magnetic swipe option.

According to the Better Business Bureau, there’s a few ways to guard against shimmers:

How to protect yourself from shimmers:

  • Use the tap-and-go feature on your credit or debit card instead of swiping or inserting your card.
  • Use mobile services such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay to tap and pay.
  • If you’re withdrawing cash at a bank, go inside to a teller.

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