People in a hurry are less likely to notice the person hovering by their side at the ATM. And that’s allegedly what Arthur Lefco wanted.

As KATU News reports, customers visiting ATMs at a Portland, Oregon, credit union were victims of a low-tech form of identity theft that garnered thousands of dollars. Lefco purportedly “shoulder surfed” as patrons used the ATM, staying close enough to see and remember their personal identification numbers (PIN).

Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

According to KOIN News, part of Lefco’s scheme included blending into the background. He would talk on the phone or appear to be texting rather than looking at the ATM user. But he was really watching the transaction.

Many ATMs have a screen that asks whether the customer would like to make another transaction once their first one is complete. However, some people miss that screen and walk away from the machine before declining.

Whenever that occurred, authorities believe Lefco would dash up to the ATM and answer “Yes” to the additional transaction. Using the PIN he memorized while peering over the person’s shoulder, Lefco would withdraw money from their account — up to $500 at a time.

Authorities say Lefco tried to access more than 53 accounts this way and was successful 18 times. He allegedly made off with approximately $9,000 as a result. After being charged with theft and identity theft, Lefco was released from custody on Monday.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), it is important to be aware of your surroundings whenever you use an ATM. To protect yourself from fraud, memorize your PIN — don’t write it down, keep it in your wallet, or tell anyone else what it is.

You can discourage shoulder surfers by shielding the keyboard with your hand or using your body to shield your transaction. Keep the receipt, and be sure to report a lost or stolen ATM card immediately. Finally, be sure the transaction is complete before walking away.

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