Sheriff: Eagle-eyed residents alert law enforcement to three ATM skimmers

Sheriff: Eagle-eyed residents alert law enforcement to three ATM skimmers
Denisa Bonculesco (Source: RCSD)
Denisa Bonculesco (Source: RCSD)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott praised two eagle-eyed residents who helped them locate credit card skimmers at three different ATMs.

Lott said the two men -- independent of the sheriff's department -- watched him demonstrate how to spot these skimmers at an area ATM back in April.

"They were going to use the ATM on Saturday and they remembered what we had demonstrated," Lott said.

During the April demonstration, Lott showed how residents could easily check if their ATMs had these skimmers installed. These devices can be easily be placed over the scanning device on your bank's ATM. From there, crooks can take them off the ATM after a day's worth of collecting card data and download them to a computer.

Sure enough, Lott said, his demonstration worked. Three ATMs on Clemson Road, North Main Street, and on Decker Boulevard were tapped and sheriff's deputies were able to remove the skimmers quickly.

"They watched what we did, and used it," Lott said. "They both grabbed it and pulled it and it came off. And they knew they had a skimmer and they called us."

Lott referred to both men as "heroes." One of the men, who was only identified as Chris, said it was all pretty simple to catch.

MORE: Romanian gang said to be behind skimmers in Midlands, 1 arrested

"I didn't think it would happen to me," Chris said. "So one day I just did it. It was Saturday morning. Getting some money, and it came off. I was shocked."

Lott said the two residents likely saved plenty of residents from a potential headache of having to deal with stolen money.

The sheriff says Romanian scammers are now hitting the Midlands with these skimmers designed to steal your card data and use it to steal money straight from your account.

"They're stealing thousands of dollars of our money, and they're living off of it and having a good time," Lott said.

As a result of the investigation, Sheriff Lott said Denisa Bonculesco was arrested and charged with financial transaction card forgery back in May. Lott said she's been identified in a suspect in similar cases in the Pee Dee and Texas. At the time, she was incarcerated in Texas on a theft charge and was extradited back to Richland County.

Lott said Bonculesco was identified after being seen on bank surveillance video taken at the ATM of the First Citizens' Bank on Rosewood Drive. He said she also was wanted by the FBI and ICE and is now in federal custody on similar charges from throughout the United States.

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