PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A man who blended into the scenery near ATMs is accused of stealing $9,000 from bank users accounts by entering their PIN, and police are reminding the public to be on high alert.
Arthur Stefan Lefco was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on Monday afternoon and was charged with one count each of aggravated ID theft and first-degree theft.
Detectives learned Lefco would hang out near a credit union in Northeast Portland’s Lloyd District waiting for customers to use the ATM. He blended into the area by walking around with a cellphone to his ear, which kept him relatively close to the ATM, where he would watch people enter their PINs.
Most ATMs will give the customer’s card back and then hand out the cash. When the transaction is complete, the machines will ask the customer if another transaction is needed. If the customer clicks “No” the session is ended.
But if the customer clicks “Yes,” the customer is prompted to enter the PIN. If nothing happens and the customer simply walks away from the machine, there is a small window of time that allows someone to click “Yes” before the session expires.
Police believe Lefco was taking advantage of that small window and would run up to the machine once a customer left, then attempt to enter their PIN to access their accounts.
Since May, detectives believe that Lefco, a 42-year-old resident of Parkdale, has been able to obtain $9,000 by fraudulently using the ATM. According to court documents, Lefco was able to steal about $500 at a time.
Police declined to ID the credit union Lefco was primarily targeting. Detectives are working with other banks and credit unions to determine if Lefco may have targeted other institutions.
Court documents show that detectives have obtained surveillance images of Lefco “piggy backing” several customers.
On Monday, detectives learned that Lefco was in downtown and may have been “shoulder surfing” customers at an ATM. Detectives were unable to find Lefco but based on his prior behavior, they suspected he may head across the river. Detectives set up near the ATM in the Lloyd District and after a short while, Lefco appeared and was seen staring “intently” at a woman while she used the machine, according to court documents.
He has previously been convicted of menacing and harassment. He was released from jail on Monday evening.
Detectives with PPB’s White Collar Crimes Unit have the following tips for people using ATMs:
- Always check your surroundings before and during your ATM session;
- Check the ATM card reader for any signs of tampering;
- Check the ATM for signs of a hidden camera (usually placed in the upper corners);
- Completely cover the ATM keypad when entering your PIN;
- Always make sure your ATM session has ended and the machine is back on the welcome screen before leaving;
- Report any suspicious behavior of people nearby or suspicious tampering on the machine.
Police encourage people to gently wiggle the card reader on ATMs to check for skimming devices. A skimming device is usually placed over the machine’s card slot. Criminals with skimming devices can clone your card. Typically a hidden camera is placed on or near the machine or someone is watching to obtain the customer’s PIN.
Anyone who recognizes Lefco, or knows information that could help detectives, is asked to call 503.823.0400.