Crooks are on a spree across the state, placing devices on automated-teller machines that steal personal financial information off bank cards, the U.S. Secret Service told The State on Thursday.
Thieves using devices called "skimmers" have hit at least 10 ATMs in Columbia, Charleston and the Pee Dee this year, said Michael Williams, special agent in charge of the Secret Service's Columbia office.
At least four of the ATMs, including one at the Publix grocery store in Columbia's Harbison area, were struck by crooks tied to an organized criminal gang from Bulgaria, Williams said. That gang also has been tied to ATM skimmers found in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois.
The other six S.C. incidents also could be tied to criminals working out of the Eastern European nation via south Florida, but the Secret Service is still investigating, Williams said.
The number of ATM skimmer cases in South Carolina so far this year already is well past 2009's statewide total of two.