SAN FRANCISCO -- A story about a new type of ATM fraud in Northern California has exploded on the internet: scammers using glue and the ATM "tap feature" have been draining bank accounts. Now more victims have come forward saying it happened to them, too.
It was a wake-up call for anyone who uses an ATM, especially the newer "tap feature." Turns out thieves at one ATM in San Francisco's Mission District poured glue into the card reader so victims would have to "tap" instead -- and once they did, the scammers pounced.
Pamela Bongiorno showed us how thieves got her money at this ATM.
"I was like, that guy scammed me last night at the ATM machine," Bongiorno said. "I inserted my card. It didn't work."
A man in line told her she could tap her card instead -- and it worked.
She got her cash and walked off. But the next day, she received a shock.
She found three more withdrawals on her account -- $940 dollars, gone.
"Why is my account almost $1,000 less?" she said.
Many were amazed to see our story about Bongiorno and came forward.
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"I'm like, 'That happened to me!'" said Stephanie Barry.
"I didn't think anything of it. I just thought the guy was using the ATM," said Rob Bell, another victim.
"My initial reaction was, 'Wait a second, I definitely didn't withdraw that much money,'" Justin Sindelar told 7 On Your Side.
All used the tap feature at that ATM and all found their accounts drained after they left.
"I was so mad. That happened to me!" Barry said.
Barry says she tapped her phone at that ATM to withdraw $20, then hurried off, because a man was lurking nearby.
"I didn't know if he was being a creep or what," she said.
Seconds later, a fraud alert appeared on Barry's phone. Did she just withdraw $600? She replied, "No."
But it was a little too late as $400 were already gone.
The card reader didn't work when Gary Lea used that ATM.
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Then a man nearby insisted on helping.
"And he said, 'It'll work. I just got money from there. You have to tap it,'" Lea said.
The stranger tapped Lea's card for him. Lea got his cash and walked off. The next day, all but $5 was gone.
"They put glue in the card reader of the ATM machine," Bongiorno said as she recounted.
The bank manager told Bongiorno that scammers pour glue into the slot, so victims have to tap. By tapping, the transaction window stays open even after the cash comes out. So if a customer walks off without closing the window, a thief can step up and make more withdrawals.
Chase Bank said customers should wait for this screen asking, "Do you want to do something else?" and to click "No" to close out the session.
"I still think about that. I normally close it but maybe I just left it open," Barry said.
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Bank managers told victims the scam has been ongoing since last fall. Yet Chase rejected all of their claims, saying they authorized the transactions.
"Why would I make four transactions in one day?" Lea said. "I just feel betrayed."
"The investigator from Chase just made me feel so icky. 'Oh, how do we know you didn't steal the money?'" Barry said.
"I'm not gonna take no for an answer," Bongiorno said.
Bongiorno filed her claim four times before Chase replaced her money, but after our inquiries, the bank did refund all of the victims in this report, telling 7 On Your Side: "We have credited our customers in full and are taking additional steps to protect patrons."
"Now, I don't even use 'tap to pay' anymore because of this transaction," Barry said.
The tap feature does require entering a PIN for each transaction. But thieves find ways to capture PINs. Chase said to cover the keypad when you enter your PIN. Look for signs of tiny cameras and don't talk to anyone in line.