GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Hundreds of bank card and personal identification numbers were reportedly stolen over an October weekend by skimmers attached to ATMs located off-post Tower Barracks, according to bank officials here.
An estimated 800 accounts were affected and tens of thousands of dollars was stolen from the Grafenwoehr area, including the accounts of many DOD-affiliated personnel, Service Credit Union said in a statement at the Community Leaders Information Forum last week.
The fraud, which took place at two privately-owned ATMs right outside Tower Barracks Gate 1, likely occurred in a two-hour window late Saturday night, Oct. 22, SCU also said, adding that any card used on the implicated machines during this window — regardless of its financing bank — may have been compromised.
Large withdraws of money began leaving accounts simultaneously Oct. 23 from distant locations, such as Nairobi, Kenya and parts of northern Africa, according to local reports.
The affected ATMs were located on the street, had little to no camera surveillance and were not affiliated with major banks, said SCU Manager Aaron Force.
He also added that the skimmer technology used on these ATMs to collect and misuse information is extremely difficult for the amateur eye to recognize. Glue residue still remains where the skimming device was attached to the ATM machine.
German Polizei, Military Police and military intelligence officials have been notified and are handling the ongoing investigation.
Criminal activity just outside Gate 1 on Tower Barracks has been reported in the past, said Staff Sgt. Edward Frady, Lead Investigator for USAG Bavaria Directorate of Emergency Services. “Everyone needs to be particularly alert.”
Frady urges anyone affected by any financial fraud to file official police reports at the Military Police Desk located at Bldg. 2099 on Rose Barracks to help validate their case.
ATM-users are encouraged to always use an ATM inside a bank.
At present, no claims of on-post ATM skimming attempts have been brought to the attention of the Military Police.
On-post financial institutions responded to the account fraud promptly, temporarily blocking PIN-based transactions from suspicious locations and processing all substantiated claims within one business day.