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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Patrick Traynor, a cybersecurity expert, was in New York in February alive with badge to advice analyze a way to ascertain acclaim agenda skimmers on ATMs back he got a banking artifice alert: his own advice had been baseborn while he was in town.

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It wasn’t the aboriginal time. In bristles years he’d had his claimed advice baseborn by acclaim agenda skimmers — accessories illegally installed on ATMs and gas base pumps that “skim” customer acclaim agenda numbers — a half-dozen times.

“I’ve got 15 years of acquaintance in the acreage of advice security. If I can’t assure myself reliably, who abroad possibly can?” Traynor, a computer advice science and engineering assistant at University of Florida, said.

After three years of study, Traynor and two Florida alum acceptance invented a accessory they alarm the “Skim Reaper,” a credit-card attenuate apparatus that slides into agenda clairvoyant slots and can calmly and bound ascertain if an ATM or gas pump has been compromised. The New York Badge Department is testing the Skim Reaper with some aboriginal success in its accomplishment to rid the streets of the common devices. The AP was accustomed absolute admission to the lab area the Skim Reaper was made, as able-bodied as NYPD tests of it in the field.

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The Secret Service says skimmers abduct added than a billion dollars from U.S. consumers annually, money that generally funds organized crime.

Most acclaim agenda skimmers assignment by installing an added “read head” central or alfresco a machine. This added apprehend arch allows abyss to accomplish a archetype of the card’s advice as a customer swipes it. Skim Reaper was congenital to ascertain back added than one apprehend arch is present, Traynor said.

The NYPD has four full-time, accomplished detectives tasked with award credit-card skimmers installed on ATMs at bodegas, but say the botheration is too boundless to be chock-full with those resources.

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“The botheration is that it’s transient, they appear in and abode the accessory and move on. In aboriginal January we were accepting killed,” Deputy Inspector Christopher Flanagan of the NYPD Banking Crimes Task Force said, apropos to a January fasten in skimming-related crimes.

In February, Traynor gave NYPD bristles Skim Reapers to test. The accessory looks like a continued acclaim agenda that can be slid into a agenda aperture in a gas pump or ATM. It’s absorbed by a wire to a cellphone-sized box with a baby readout awning that says “possible skimmer!” back assorted apprehend active are detected.

Part of the allure to the Skim Reaper is its simplicity. Flanagan said admiral in New York afresh begin the aboriginal skimmer application the accessory at an ATM in Brooklyn.

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“I’ve been accomplishing bribery for about bristles years now and I accept never acclimated annihilation like this or accept accepted of annihilation like this,” said NYPD Det. James Lilla of the Banking Crimes Taskforce. “It’s absolutely an abetment we can use to action ATM skimming.”

The appearance of debit and acclaim cards with careful chips that amid into appropriate readers accept helped some retail businesses action skimming. But the college bulk of the new readers and complication of switching over to a new technology has been an obstacle for baby retail businesses and gas stations area abyss accept flourished.

Steven Weisman, a cybersecurity able and assistant at Bentley University in Massachusetts, said the Skim Reaper could be a “revolutionary, watershed moment” in the action adjoin skimmers.

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“If absolutely this new technology could be done on a bulk able basis, it could put the skimmers out of business. It would save bodies amazing amounts of money and aggravation,” Weisman said.

Right now, it costs about $50 to accomplish anniversary Skim Reaper, Traynor said, but his aggregation is alive circadian to get that cardinal down.

In New York, NYPD’s Flanagan said added testing needs to be done but he is afflicted with aboriginal results. Mainly, it allows green admiral to be active in the anti-skimming effort, area afore accomplished board were bare to analyze the actionable devices.

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“I accept four detectives who do the ATM bribery abounding time,” he said. “They’re all acutely active with the bulk of assignment we do, so back I can booty addition who is untrained, or has some added chargeless time to go out and do these inspections, it absolutely is a help.”

Nolen Scaife, one of the alum acceptance who advised the accessory with Traynor, said the aggregation is alive to advance the Skim Reaper’s architecture so that it is wallet-sized. Then, consumers would be able to backpack the accessory and dip it into a agenda clairvoyant afore they get gas or use the ATM to ensure they aren’t actuality skimmed.

“There’s no greater activity than activity the assignment you’re accomplishing has absolute impact,” Scaife said. “We’re animated to be able to aftermath article that will barrier the tide.”

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___

Associated Press video announcer David Martin in New York contributed to this report.

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