Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Earlier this year, Chase Bank rolled out a mobile banking app for customers’ cell phones that allow those customers to make withdrawals from ATMs WITHOUT using an ATM or Debit card. The app is linked to the customer’s account and generates a special code that users can enter into a Chase ATM to withdrawal cash instead of using their cards.
Within the last couple days, my police department (in Central Ohio) has made several arrests of criminals who were committing identity theft by fraudulently using the app to take money out of other people’s accounts. Apparently, this type of crime began in the Miami, Florida area. It was so bad that reportedly the banks in Miami have suspended the use of the mobile app. Now criminals are flying from Miami to other cities where the app is used so that they can continue their thefts. As I stated above, my police department has arrested several of these identity thieves targeting Chase bank ATMs in the last few days.
I don’t understand exactly how the criminals are getting access to customer’s accounts. Someone has either hacked the withdrawal code database inside Chase, or has developed a computer program to generate alternate functional code numbers. Criminals are dropped off at a Chase bank branch, walk up to an ATM, make a phone call, and start entering codes provided by whomever the criminal is calling. The criminals have successfully stolen thousands of dollars out of accounts in my city alone.
If you have a Chase savings or checking account, be alert for fraudulent withdrawals. If I banked at Chase, I would disable the mobile app (at least temporarily) to ensure that the criminals can’t gain access to my money. The detectives I spoke to said that this seems to be an organized group of thieves who are flying to various cities all over the country to steal money from ATMs. One of the folks my department arrested also had a Federal felony identity theft warrant issued by the US Secret Service for his arrest. These guys seem to be serious players. Watch your accounts.
The criminals are flying into these cities, booking hotel rooms, and then summoning Uber drivers to take them around to different banks. If you are an Uber driver and you get an odd fare from a hotel directly to a Chase bank branch, please notify your local police department. They will be very interested to know where the thieves are staying so that they can obtain warrants to recover the stolen cash.
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