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Aug. 17, 2009

PHOENIX – If you just toss your bank statement in a drawer each month without looking at it, you’re making a huge mistake.

“It’s huge, this is one of those crimes where you may very well not have known you were a victim of a crime if you were not looking at your bank statements,” said Phoenix Police Sergeant Darren Burch. “You’ll just think you have less money in the bank and actually you’re a victim of a theft.”

Sergeant Burch is talking about skimming.

“The purpose of these skimming devices are when you legitimately use your debit card and you scan it through this skimming device, you then punch in your pin and now the skimming device has both the information on the back of the debit card or your credit card that has all your information, your account information, and also has your pin number,” said Sgt. Burch.

And you may never know you’ve been skimmed unless you check your statement. Chris Lee is one of at least two victims that police believe were skimmed by the same guy. Lee and his family had just returned from vacation and his wife went to the bank to check on some transactions. That’s when she found a huge withdrawal from their checking account.

“I asked her to check our savings account which is coupled in together,” said Lee. “She checked that and that had also been hit a few hours after the checking account had been hit.”

Lee is glad they caught the theft when they did.

“You know, if my wife hadn’t checked the bank account, the amount of damage that could have been done would have been tremendous,” said Lee.

As it is, he’s struggling to recover.

“It affected my mortgage payment, it affected our ability to pay our bills for the month,” said Lee.

In June and July of 2009, a white man in his 20’s with a thin build was caught on camera at two different ATM’s withdrawing cash from both Lee’s and another man’s accounts.

“It looks like it’s the same individual who’s taking the money out,” said Sgt. Birch. “Now he may not be the same person who is even installing these skimming devices or doing this. He just may be the street soldier if you will.”