NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is searching for two suspects accused of installing ATM skimming devices at several hospitals in New York City — subsequently stealing more than $40,000 from unknowing users.
The ATMs are used by patients, doctors and their families, who are often more focused on illnesses than the safety of their hospital’s money machines, CBS2’s Andrea Grymes reported.
That vulnerability proved fertile grounds for criminals, who authorities say installed ATM skimming devices at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, New York Presbyterian Hospital and Jamaica Hospital in Queens, and Methodist Hospital in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
“They come from all over the place to get treated at Sloan-Kettering,” Carolyn Kretz, of the Upper East Side, said. “This is the last place that you would expect this to happen — so it’s really terrible.”
Claire Kellman couldn’t believe it when $400 were stolen from her bank account last month. Even more unbelievable, was that someone swiped her pin number from the ATM inside Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s cancer center where she works.
“I was like, ‘my money! Oh my gosh I just got paid. I have my bills to pay and here’s someone just stealing my money.’ How is that even happening?” she said.
“It’s unfortunate,” fellow hospital worker Renata Mills said. “A lot of people were victims from that, a lot of people.”
Police have identified 36-year-old Atanasiu Bogdan-Valentin as a suspect in connection to the case. According to police, Valentin and another unidentified male suspect are believed to have stolen $46,000 from 75 victims.
“To hear about it here at the hospital, it’s even more troubling because when you come here, you are looking at the sick ones,” hospital visitor Robert Gorynski said. “You’re not thinking about, you know, potentially getting ripped off.”
“Everybody’s sort of in a sort of semi-distressed mode, and in the meantime, you’re not thinking about your money and your safety,” Katya Skorik, of the Upper East Side, said.
Investigators say the men used the victims’ personal information to make duplicate cards before making several unauthorized cash withdrawals.
Authorities believe the skimmers were installed between Aug. 24 and Nov. 1, 2016.
Experts say it is always a good idea to keep a close eye on your bank statement, and when using any ATM, look at the card slot. If it looks like something doesn’t fit or it’s loose, it may have been compromised.
Late Wednesday afternoon, CBS2 heard from Memorial Sloan-Kettering and New York Presbyterian. Both hospitals said when they learned of the ATM issues, they immediately notified police and took steps to protect customers’ information.
The other two hospitals have not commented.