Beware: The Shoulder Surfer!
Panorama City. Detectives have released a photograph of a man who is suspected of accessing a Bank of America customer’s ATM account after the patron walked away from the machine, and police are warning the public to protect your ATM PIN.
“It’s called ‘shoulder surfing,’ and it happens more often than you think,” said Lt. Paul Vernon, commanding officer of the Mission Detective Division. “It’s a way for a crook to get into your ATM account without your ATM card.”
Pictures from the ATM camera show a second man in line hovering over a bank patron’s shoulder as the patron inserts his card and enters his PIN. When the patron walks away with the ATM transaction still active, the suspect quickly steps up, and makes another transaction, withdrawing $500.
The bank patron suspected the man’s rush to the ATM was odd, so the patron checked his account and noted the withdrawal. “The suspect got suspicious at that point and asked the man why he got in line again,” Lt. Vernon added.
Police warn that all users of ATMs, which is just about everyone, should protect their PIN by covering the PIN entry with their second hand. “Shoulder surfing can happen any place where debit keypads are used to enter PINs, like at convenience stores,” Lt. Vernon explained. “I’ve seen situations where disreputable employees have installed cameras over keypads to capture PIN keystrokes at transactions.”
The shoulder surfer in this case chose his victim at the Bank of American at 8324 Van Nuys Boulevard, on September 1. The suspect was Black, in his 30s, 5’11 tall, with a medium build. Anyone who knows him personally should easily recognize him from the photo.
Anyone with information on this crime is urged to call Det. Janette McChesney, Mission Burglary detectives, at (818) 838-9977. Anonymous tips can be called intoCrimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477), or by texting 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Online tips may be placed at www.LAPDOnline.org, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.
Det. McChesney is available for interviews with media.