Illegal ATM skimmer discovered in River Forest

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By Jean Lotus

Staff Reporter

River Forest police arrested one of two men July 1 who they say hooked up an ATM skimming device and a covert camera to record PIN numbers on an ATM machine at the Community Bank of Oak Park-River Forest branch in River Forest at 7777 W. Lake St.

Stefan-Lorin Barbut, 31, a Romanian citizen on a valid U.S. visa living in Arlington Heights, was arrested around 7:45 p.m., July 1 after he came back to readjust the devices and was recognized by investigators, River Forest police said in a statement. The second offender is still being sought.

Community Bank staff told police, July 1, they located an illegal ATM skimmer and a spy camera at the machine that sits outside the branch doors in River Forest.

Police said the device was designed to record all data from any card that was swiped into the machine, and the camera captured card users as they entered their personal identification number into the machine's keypad. The skimming device consisted of a grey plastic cover slipped over the machine's card reader slot. A second electronic device was attached below the card-reader to transmit downloaded data.

Bank security employees said the device was attached in three separate visits during a one-week period between June 24 and July 1. Police said 59 transactions were made on the ATM by bank customers and others using the ATM to access their accounts at other banks. The data collected was off-loaded and most likely used to re-encode a duplicate card, police said.

"[Community Bank] immediately took measures to protect both our customers and those who had used the ATM who were not bank customers," said Ruth McLaren, of Community Bank in a statement.

Security video provided high-quality footage of two offenders. Police and employees deactivated the device and then re-affixed it to the ATM. They then conducted surveillance and arrested Barbut when he returned that evening to try to fix the device.

"Because of the quick response by our staff, there are zero losses incurred and the criminal has been charged," said Community Bank President Walter Healy in a statement.

On July 2, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office approved felony identity theft and felony possession of a scanning device charges against Barbut. He appeared for a bond hearing on July 3 at the Maybrook courthouse, where his bond was set for $20,000.

If you are not a customer of Community Bank but used the ATM at 7777 W. Lake St. between June 24 and July 1, contact River Forest police detectives for more information at 708-366-7125.

Reader Comments

5 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Oak Parker from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2013 3:42 PM

We are kind of old-fashioned. We never use ATMs. We just go to the bank and get cash when we need it. Seems to work! No fee! No dangers!

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 6th, 2013 12:06 PM

Dan, I think the bail was so low because the penalty for these crimes is only a couple of years in prison; at the most. Hopefully, the FBI and state police are now looking closely at this guy's associates. How was he able to obtain the illegal ATM skimmer and who was involved in processing the personal information? This surely cannot be just an isolated incident and could represent the ongoing activities of an organized crime ring. I agree with you in saluting the hard work of RFPD and proper oversight by Community Bank officials.

bluegreen aura  

Posted: July 6th, 2013 10:10 AM

Does anyone know how to check for skimmers whilst at the ATM? I have an account at MB FInancial, which is just down the street from the one in this case!

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: July 6th, 2013 7:23 AM

Thanks Village of River Forest Police Department, great job!!. This criminal comes to our country and decides to steal the identities of US citizens. I agree the bond was too low. This low life should be in County Jail awaiting trial. Had the judge who granted the bail been a victim no doubt the bond would have been higher.

Jim Coughlin from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 5th, 2013 10:39 PM

$20,000 seems like a very low bond for these two felonies and of equal concern is the fact that the accused has to be considered a flight risk. If he was able to steal more than 50 private account numbers, it seems more than likely he would also be able to produce false identification to escape and evade prosecution in this country. What steps did the judge and State's Attorney's office take to make sure this guy ever shows up for trial?

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