Deputies: Man scams $800 from woman at Sarasota ATM

- A woman named Donna in Sarasota knows she has become a victim. Now she wants others to learn from her story.

"I think it was just opportunity, that here I was the old lady standing and he just watched," she said Tuesday afternoon.

Monday afternoon, Donna said she was trying to finish a transaction at a Bank of America ATM on Bee Ridge Road when a man using the ATM to her left moved in.

"He asked, 'does this work?' And then he just got in front of me," she said.

The man claimed his ATM wasn't working and needed to use hers. Donna said there wasn't much she could do to stop him. 

"I said,' did you finish my...' and he said, 'oh yeah, and I put my card in.' I said, 'OK,'" Donna recalled.

When Donna walked away, she had an uneasy feeling.

"I watched him make two withdrawals and I thought, 'this isn't right,'" she commented.

When she put her card back in the machine, she found $800 was missing. She immediately called Sarasota deputies for help.

Investigators believe this is the third time the man has pulled off this scam.

"He will claim that his ATM isn't working, ask if he can borrow theirs and will wedge himself in there before the victim has the opportunity to say 'no' or ask any questions," said Kaitlyn Johnston with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

As investigators search for him, they warn to think of safety first.

"We would always say go inside. Talk to someone face to face if you are making a deposit or withdrawal. Or look for an ATM that is in plain view without any sort of shrubbery or anything blocking that ATM," said Johnston.

Donna wants others to learn from her experience . While she is riled up, she won't let this man change anything she does.

"You have obviously found a way to make $800 in five minutes, but it doesn't make it right," she said.

Anyone with information should contact Criminal Investigations at 941-861-4964 or submit an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers of Sarasota County by calling 941-366-TIPS(8477) or online at www.SarasotaCrimeStoppers.com.

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