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Suspects sought in Redstone ATM fraud case

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Madison County authorities released images of three men who are suspected of stealing from Redstone Federal Credit Union customers over the weekend.

The Madison County Sheriff's Office released the images from ATM surveillance cameras Tuesday afternoon.

The credit union did not say how many customers were affected by the fraud, but did say there was an "increased volume of disputes related to ATM transactions over the weekend." Redstone also said other financial institutions saw an increase.

Officials with the Madison County Sheriff's Office estimate that dozens of people could have been affected by this scam. One of those people reached out to WHNT News 19 and let us tell his story.

A victim shares their story:

One North Alabama resident got an unpleasant surprise this weekend, money was stolen right from his bank account.  Stan Hovis said he noticed something was off and discovered "two ATM transactions of $500 each one on Sunday morning one and then on Monday morning."

Lieutenant Donny Shaw believes three people were involved. They released images taken from a camera at an ATM from Redstone Federal Credit Union.

"This is a scheme that has probably been probably orchestrated by several people," Shaw said.

Shaw says he believes these criminals were able to access people's accounts at an ATM by first stealing their information with a skimmer. He says the skimmer, or skimmers, could have been anywhere, an ATM, gas station or any credit card scanner.

"Typically they'll get that information from a skimming device and then they'll download it to a fake card," he said.

He says criminals then took those fake cards to the ATM. "They're wanting to get quick cash back," he said.

Hovis is a Redstone Federal Credit Union customer. He says he called the financial institution and is working with them to get his money back, money that was supposed to be used to pay other bills.

"We had outstanding debts that needed to be paid out of the account that the money was taken out of," Hovis said.

He has a message to the criminals who did this. "People who do these things need to feel the full extent of the law," he said.

Law enforcement officials are asking for help to identify these suspects so they can do just that. Anyone with information about the men is asked to contact Investigator Locke with the Madison County Sheriff's office at 256-533-8827.

What should you do if you're a victim of a scam?:

Many people are focused on getting their money back right away, but your money could be threatened again after being a victim of this kind of scheme. Better Business Bureau of North Alabama officials explain how to protect yourself after scammers strike.

They say one way to stop scammers fast is by setting up alerts with your online banking.

"What this will do is allow you to see very quickly if there is a fraudulent activity on your account. You can report it and you can stop it in its tracks before it starts to compromise your accounts even further," Elizabeth Garcia, President of BBB of North Alabama said.

That's what Stan Hovis did. He was a victim of this scam and had $1,000 stolen from his bank account.

"Sunday morning on the way to worship service I got a text message which was real weird because we hadn't done any transactions," Hovis said.

But after people get their money back, their information could still be compromised. BBB officials say people can put a freeze on their credit. They also recommend contacting all three credit reporting agencies to set up a fraud alert.

"You can do that and that will help anyone who receives a request for a credit in your name. They're required to check the ID of the person before they actually extend that credit," Garcia said.

It's also important to continue to check your credit score. People can check their score with each credit reporting agency once a year for free. Checking your score is a way to make sure scammers aren't are using that information to make fraudulent charges.

There's no telling how long information can hang out in cyberspace, so taking these steps helps to ensure victims of scammers don't become targets once again.