Victim of Volusia County Publix ATM skimmer speaks out

Man says hundreds stolen from account after using Publix ARM

By Lisa Bell - Anchor

ORMOND-BY-THE-SEA, Fla. - A victim of the skimmer installed at a Volusia County Publix ATM is speaking out on Tuesday after he says hundreds of dollars were stolen from his account.

The small, electronic device was attached to an ATM outside a Publix in Ormond-By-The-Sea on Ocean Shore Boulevard.

"I thought my card stuck a little bit that morning," said Richard Furhman. "I wish i told the manager, I didn't know what to look for."

In the most recent case, Volusia County Sherriff deputies say a stocky white male wearing a bulky jacket and hat was acting suspicious and carrying what appeared to be a briefcase, when he approached the ATM around 7:30 Saturday morning.

Around 10 a.m., the man returned carrying the briefcase apparently to retrieve the device and all of its stolen information.

Furhman said the ordeal has been a headache, spending the day to make sure he gets his money back from the bank.

"I check my bank statements everyday, and i found out there was 200, 300, 200, 300, up to 1000 dollars missing. A bad way to start the day," he said.

It's at least the sixth time a skimmer has been found on a Publix ATM in Central Florida since November 2012.

Skimmers are nearly impossible to spot, but when customers insert their debit cards, the skimmer steals their information.

"It's really common now. I mean there's a lot of people that know how to do that stuff," said Publix shopper Carol Farnstrom.

So far, two victims have come forward after crooks withdrew over $1,700 from their accounts by using Publix ATMs in South Florida.

But the losses could go up. With banks closed for the President's Day holiday, one victim told authorities he has not been able to shut down his account.

"It's not, fortunately, a violent crime, but its a signal, it's a red flag that if somebody's here doing that, it could be your next door neighbor," said Farnstrom, who regularly shops at Publix.

And it's happening more and more in Central Florida. Surveillance video from last week shows a man putting a skimmer on a Publix ATM in Daytona Beach Shores.

In November, similar crimes happened at Publix ATMs in Lake Mary, New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach and Port Orange.

"If they can get away with it or think that they can get away with it, it doesn't surprise me that they try," said Publix customer Steve Hudak.

The thefts could also be part of a larger criminal ring. Monday morning police near Gainesville arrested three men trying to put a skimmer on a Publix ATM. The men all claimed to be from Romania and did not speak English. That case happened right near the I-75 corridor, which has also had several recent incidents.

Local 6 asked Publix if they plan to increase security in light of these cases.

In a statement, Publix spokesman Dwaine Stevens said, "As you are aware we take the safety, security and protection of our customers seriously. Unfortunately, retail theft exists and we are working diligently internally and with law enforcement to eliminate this issue. We want to maintain the confidence of our customers assuring them our systems are safe and reliable."

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