“It’s morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money.” – W.C. Fields
I was out running some errands on a recent Sunday morning. As is normal, Mrs. Lawrence was along as co-pilot, navigator, and the “wealth of all knowledge“. As we drove north on a major highway, the only major highway through the paradise we call home, I noticed two men working in a very small strip of grass separating the highway from a small shopping center. Knowing that my “wealth of all knowledge” has intimate dealings with this particular location, I inquired as to what they may be doing there on a Sunday morning. She told me that the off-site owner of the small strip mall, currently housing 4 businesses and an empty store front, has decided to install a free standing, outside, walk-up only, seemingly arbitrary ATM machine. Then, my head exploded.
Do a Google search for “atm scams” and in .035 seconds, you are provided with 6,840,000 hits. And, here’s a shocker, many of those results include not only pictures, but “how to” instructions. (For “educational” purposes only, right?) ATM scams have been around since, well, ATMs. Everything from false front card readers to tiny, hidden, wireless cameras, crooks are always finding new and better ways to scam people at ATMs. Am I saying we should never use them? Of course not. ATMs in and outside of banks are maintained regularly by professionals, and are equipped with 24 hour surveillance cameras. The machines found inside some convenience stores are in plain view of employees and customers and as long as you can get past the ridiculous fees, and barring an unscrupulous store employee, you should be safe using them.
As for this particular ATM, once I regained some cognitive brain function, I respectfully asked my co-pilot to never use it, under any circumstances.
Considering the location, at an intersection where no businesses are open overnight, no residences with a view are nearby, and who knows what, if any, security surveillance will be in place, it’s only a matter of time before I see this in our local Police Blotter: