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OREM — A Utah mother of five is warning others to change their PIN and food stamp card after crooks were able to replicate her card with a skimming device and spend more than $1,000 in Arizona.
"Change your pin often on a food card," said AnnaMarie Martin. "There's no protections."
Martin said she was saving money on her Electronic Benefit Transfer Horizon Card for a spring case lot sale.
"It was over a thousand dollars," Martin told KSL earlier this week. "In a matter of two hours, they cleared my card."
Orem Police said the skimming device was placed on a credit card terminal in the self-checkout at the WinCo grocery store off of 800 N. in Orem.
"We know there are other cases," Lt. Nick Thomas told KSL-TV on Tuesday. "That money was stolen using a skimmer at WinCo here in town."
Police reports show that an officer responded to the WinCo on Jan. 2 for reports of fraud.
"4 suspects replaced an electronic checkout device in the self-checkout area with their own," the report states. It also said that a skimming device had been in place since Nov. 26.
A separate police report reveals that officers responded to the same WinCo four months earlier.
"Officers were able to obtain surveillance and photos of the suspects along with the device that was placed on the self-checkout," officers wrote in the August report.
Sgt. Jeff Plank, with the State Bureau of Investigation, is familiar with skimming crimes and said the crooks stay nearby and use Bluetooth to collect the card numbers and PINs and then replicate the cards.
Plank said it can be relatively easy for thieves to replace the store's credit card terminal with a different one that has an internal skimming device.
"Literally it's just pulling it off and putting on a new one," he said. "They can hollow out the guts of that thing, put in a skimming device inside, close it up, put it right back on top of the mount there and skim your card."
To protect cards from a skimmer, Plank says to be wary of a credit card reader in an area without supervision and to look for anything loose or that doesn't match other registers.
"Wiggle. You can wiggle overlays," he said. "If something looks like it's stuck on there with double-sided tape, that's not going to be factory, that's not normal."
"I didn't notice it and I'm usually pretty good at noticing things that look off," Martin said of the credit card terminal she used in the self-checkout in December.
The Utah Department of Workforce Services told KSL-TV that EBT cards function like cash and that the funds can't be recovered once used.