The San Francisco Police Department have arrested a serial con artist. His weapon of choice? Napkins. According to police, the thief was tampering with several area ATMs by stuffing napkins into the slots where money is released. The San Francisco Examiner reported that when the suspect was caught, officers said they found another napkin-stuffed ATM nearby.

In hindsight, the scam was simple. The napkins would trap the money beyond sight of the slot where consumers awaited their funds. Perhaps thinking the machine was malfunctioning, they would simply walk away from the ATM. The thief would simply go to the machine, pull out the napkins and walk away with the money, according to The Examiner.

To avoid falling prey to such a scam, one tip is to use the same ATM as often as possible. That way, if something is different, you are more likely to notice it.

Also The Consumerist , you should reach into the slot opening for your cash if it doesn’t come out. Make sure that nothing is stuck past the tray and preventing cash from being released. Call the 800 number on the ATM card with any suspicions.

Credit card skimmers are another scam. Skimmers are slim card readers that fit over the credit card slot on ATMs. As you insert a card into the ATM, it passes through the credit card skimmer and records your information. If you are at an unfamiliar ATM, make sure that there’s not something protruding from the credit card slot. If it’s a legitimate ATM, it will be one smooth surface. Scammers have to use an add-on credit card skimmer, so there will be a detectable seam line. If you see a seam line, contact the bank.

A few other safety precautions can are also useful to keep in mind. Try to avoid the ATM at night or when one is in a deserted area. Cover the keypad with a cupped hand when entering your pin number. Make sure to clear the screen after any transaction.

(news source