FREMONT (CBS SF) – Thieves are cleaning out unsuspecting ATM customer’s accounts through a method known as ‘shoulder surfing.’

Last month, a Fremont woman notified police after her account was debited during ATM transactions she didn’t make.

The 53-year-old said she made a single transaction at an ATM machine, but the bank called later and said two withdrawals of $200 were taken from her account after she walked away. Police are certain she was a victim of ‘ATM shoulder surfing.’

Authorities warn this kind of theft occurs when customers leave the ATM machine before the session is completely closed. The screen asks if they ‘want another transaction,’ a waiting thief steps up, takes over the machine, and withdraws more money from an account. Often a PIN number is needed to complete the transaction, but if the thief has been watching the ATM customer closely, they often manage to observe the PIN number.

Authorities investigated two ‘shoulder surfing’ thefts at the same ATM earlier this year, and similar incidents an ATM in Milpitas. A woman was arrested after someone observed her standing near the ATMs, and watching ATM users from a parked car.

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