New ‘shimmer’ technology allows thieves to steal $53K at Maryland Heights ATM

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. - As consumers adapt to the threat of ATM skimmers, thieves are developing new methods of scamming the public.

In one recent example, Maryland Heights police said thieves stole over $50,000 from an ATM using a shimmer device.

Skimmers go over ATM card insert areas. Skimmer steals credit card data by recording the magnetic strip on the card.

A shimmer device goes inside the card insert area and is nearly impossible to detect. It targets the chip on the card. It's known as a shimmer because it acts as a shim that sits between the chip on the card and the chip reader in the ATM.

On April 1, a suspect walked into the vestibule of a bank and within 40 seconds managed to install a shimmer into that bank's ATM. On April 9, the suspect came back and retrieved the shimmer from the ATM.

Maryland Heights Det. James Wethington said the thieves then make cloned cards. From April 13 to April 18, they used the cloned cards at ATMs in the area and stole $53,000.

Wethington wants hotel staff to take a look at the pictures of the suspects because they use hotel rooms to make the cloned cards and move around the country. He thinks this group has left the area and there are probably more victims out there who just haven’t checked their card statements yet.

The Better Business Bureau has these suggestions to protect against shimmers:

  • Use the contactless tap-and-go feature on your credit or debit card instead of swiping or inserting your card
  • Use contactless 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
  • Use ATMs in banks rather than more vulnerable standalone machine
  • Cover the keypad with your hand when entering your PIN
  • Don’t proceed with a transaction if your card encounters resistance when it is inserted
  • Contact the bank, merchant, and your card issuer is you suspect your card has been compromised