EXCLUSIVE: Chase Bank ATM victim goes undercover to prove he was scammed by glue and 'tap' thief

ByMichael Finney and Renee Koury KGO logo
Thursday, April 6, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: ATM 'tap' scam victim goes undercover to catch thief
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A victim who was scammed by a thief using the glue and "tap" feature secretly took his own surveillance video to get back the $1,640 stolen from him.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- We revealed a new type of ATM scam where thieves poured glue in the card reader, forcing victims to use the tap feature, then draining their accounts.

It happened to several Chase Bank customers in San Francisco.

But the bank denied their claims, so one victim told 7 On Your Side' s Michael Finney he set out to prove to the bank he really was scammed.

Scammers knew that by tapping your card, the ATM transaction window stays open, even after cash comes out.

VIDEO: ATM thieves use glue and 'tap' function to drain accounts at Chase Bank

There's a new warning for those who use the "tap" function at ATMs.

The thieves step up and keep withdrawing money.

The bank said there was no proof of any scam. So after losing everything, someone decided to get that proof.

"It looked like someone had stuffed a gift card in there and it was really sticky."

Joey Mularky recalls how someone stole his money at an ATM at Chase Bank.

The card slot was glued shut.

A man next to him offered help.

"He says, 'oh you have to tap your card, because it's been broken' and I was like, oh thanks," Mularky said.

Mularky tapped his phone, withdrew $60 and walked off. It all seemed normal until he went back to the same ATM.

"And then the same man was there. That's where I was suspicious," he said.

As Mularky withdrew another $60, the man came closer.

"He went up to the ATM like right behind me...so I was like, that's not good."

Sure enough, he later found multiple withdrawals from his account. All $1,640 gone.

"I'm like that happened to me!," said Stephanie Barry from San Francisco.

The same thing happened to several other customers at the ATM.

"I was like, that guy scammed me last night at the ATM machine," said Pamela Bongiorno, a San Francisco resident also scammed.

"I didn't think anything of it. I just thought the guy was using the ATM," Rob Bell said.

VIDEO: More Chase customers lose money to ATM thieves using glue and 'tap' feature to steal

7 On Your Side's story about scammers using glue and the ATM "tap feature" to drain bank accounts went viral. Now more victims have come forward.

Justin Sindelar said he was also scammed. "My initial reaction was, wait a second, I definitely didn't withdraw that much money."

"They put glue in the card reader of the ATM machine," said Bongiorno.

A bank manager told victims that scammers pour glue into the slot so victims have to tap instead.

By tapping, the transaction window stays open---even after the cash comes out.

If a customer walks off without closing the window, a thief can step up and withdraw more money.

"I called them over and over and over again.," Mularky said.

Chase Bank rejected his claim. Just as it denied other victims, ruling that they authorized the withdrawals.

"They pretty much said, you don't have any proof of these claims" he said.

Bankers told Mularky he must have taken the money since he tapped his phone at the ATM.

"Since I didn't report the phone missing, I must have made those charges, which was not true at all," he insisted.

The bank refused to check the surveillance video to see who really took out his money.

"They said the police have to request the surveillance video ... it's not stored at the bank."

And so Mularky took matters into his own hands. He'd make his own video.

"Every time I walked my dog, I would just look to see if he was there."

From across the street, he saw the same man lurking at the ATM.

Secretly, he shot video. Mularky says it shows the man scamming someone else.

"And then I told Chase (Bank), 'Hey, I have this video, is this proof? And they said no. Just because you have proof of them doing it to someone doesn't mean it happened to you.'"

We contacted Chase Bank. It reviewed his Mularky's case and this time he got a refund.

The bank also refunded other scam victims, but has not said how it investigates these scams.

"We are making changes to out ATM's to protect our customers," Chase Bank said.

Chase did not say what the changes may be, but it indicated it may change the way the tap feature closes out the transaction window.

As it is, customers must type in their pin with every transaction, but does not need to tap the card each time.

Victims said they believe the scammers hovering nearby were able to see them type in their pin, or had a camera nearby, recording the pin entry.

Mularky was relieved that Chase Bank returned his money, saying the scam left him with just $19 in his account to last for a month.

"I was super surprised. I tried so hard to get that money back ... and got nowhere."

Consumer advocates tell us the bank should not ignore important evidence such as surveillance video, as it is required by law to conduct a full investigation.

We will have more reports on your rights if your money is stolen at an ATM or electronic devices.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

7OYS's consumer hotline is a free consumer mediation service for those in the San Francisco Bay Area. We assist individuals with consumer-related issues; we cannot assist on cases between businesses, or cases involving family law, criminal matters, landlord/tenant disputes, labor issues, or medical issues. Please review our FAQ here. As a part of our process in assisting you, it is necessary that we contact the company / agency you are writing about. If you do not wish us to contact them, please let us know right away, as it will affect our ability to work on your case. Due to the high volume of emails we receive, please allow 3-5 business days for a response.

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