By Jean Lotus
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.
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