The U.S. Secret Service has joined the investigation of a wave of bank fraud incidents reported across South Jersey this month.

In Atlantic County, illegal “skimming” devices were found on ATMs at TD Bank locations in Brigantine, Egg Harbor Township and Northfield, a company spokesman said. Meanwhile, Lower Township police reported a device found at a Bank of America location.

The devices are placed on existing ATM machines by criminals to capture victims’ debit card information. That information is then used to make fraudulent purchases.

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Brigantine police Lt. Jim Bennett said five complaints were received over a four-day period, prompting the department to issue a public notice Wednesday.

“I hadn’t even realized we had that many until I caught wind of it in other towns,” said Bennett, adding that the scale of the fraudulent activity prompted the Secret Service to become involved.

While the Secret Service is best known for its role protecting U.S. presidents and foreign dignitaries, it’s also tasked with investigating fraud related to the national currency and financial systems. Local Secret Service officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Police and bank officials are advising customers to keep a watch on their accounts and immediately report any suspicious activity to both the bank and local police.

Gabe Weissman, a TD spokesman, said the company is working with law enforcement.

“We are proactively reaching out to all customers who may have been impacted by these incidents to correct any issues and to issue new debit cards,” he said, in a written statement. “Customers will be reimbursed for fraudulent activity which resulted from the incident.”

Weissman said bank officials are in the process of contacting any customers who may have been affected and is upgrading its ATM technology to prevent future skimming incidents.

Customers should cover the keypad when entering their PIN information at an ATM and carefully review their bank statements and credit reports.

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Follow Wallace McKelvey on Twitter @wjmckelvey

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