WBUR

After Murder Of South Boston Woman, A Push For More ATM Safety

BOSTON — Police believe South Boston resident Amy Lord was forced to withdraw money from five different ATM machines before she was killed earlier this week — one after another.

That has many people asking why ATMs don’t have safeguards that would flag that kind of suspicious behavior. The issue is a personal one for Sen. Brian Joyce, a Milton Democrat.

“It really was brought to my attention by a dear friend who was robbed at an ATM machine back in the late ’90s in New York,” Joyce recalls, “and was shot.”

Joyce has been pushing for ATM safety legislation for more than a decade. Various proposed bills would require ATMs to have surveillance cameras, reflective mirrors, transparent walls, card-secured door entry, or some combination or those. And when Joyce spoke with WBUR’s All Things Considered host Sacha Pfeiffer Friday, he mentioned another safety measure that he thinks might have made a difference in the Lord case.

Sen. Brian Joyce: Perhaps most relevant here is we’ve suggested for over 10 years a requirement of an emergency telephone — some would refer to it as a panic button — so that if a person is in danger or feels in imminent danger of injury or robbery they would have the ability to get an emergency response. We’ve introduced this legislation in the state Legislature since about 1999 and it’s annually met with resistance from the banking industry that doesn’t necessarily want to bear any additional costs.

Sacha Pfeiffer: I’ve also read that there are proposals that perhaps you could enter a different PIN number that indicates distress, or your PIN backwards, and you might even get cash so that the captor or the robber or the mugger thinks everything is going smoothly but in fact some authority has been alerted.

There’s going to be a whole slew of wonderful proposals, and I think that’s terrific, but we need to do something. It’s been far too long, and I remember when Dave Breen was asked about this back in 2006…

This is a Boston University School of Law professor who’s been a longtime advocate for increased ATM safety.

That’s correct, and a person who was victimized in an ATM machine. And I remember him saying seven years ago, “My gosh, I hope someone doesn’t have to get seriously injured or worse before people take this measure seriously.” And that appears to me what may have happened here. This is just an unspeakable tragedy for this young woman’s family. And, who knows — perhaps it could have been avoided had some very commonsense, relatively simple safety precautions been mandated for these ATM locations.

You said it’s concerns about cost that generally made the banking/ATM industry resistant. What about the cost that might be borne by, say, prank alarms? I mean, how do you make a system foolproof so that it doesn’t overly tax the banking industry with unnecessary alarms?

Sure, but that’s not a reason to not have some safety measures at these ATM machines.

It seems to be a bit of a red herring. We’re already dealing with it in terms of fire alarms or people calling in false alarms. Certainly it’s possible that somebody could pull a false alarm at an ATM location, but it’s also distinctly possible that had such a device been in place at any one of these five machines where this poor young woman was forced to withdraw money, perhaps the tragedy could have been avoided.

What is the current status of ATM safety legislation in Massachusetts?

It sits before the Joint Committee on Financial Services. We’ve heard some commentary from the Massachusetts Bankers Association, which continues to be in opposition, suggesting it’s not financially driven, it’s perhaps because there’s no similar requirement for cash machines at convenience stores and gas stations. That strikes me as somewhat nonsensical.

But, in any case, if the bill can be improved, I’m all for it. But let’s just get something in place to try to avoid such a tragedy from happening again.

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  • Brutus

    How about more women with Concealed Carry permits? Guns make the weak equal to the strong, and your average guy can beat and kill most women. easily. But not if the women own and know how to use a gun. Gun rights are women’s rights.

    • dust truck

      Considering she willingly left the car, went to the ATM and then returned to the car, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have used a gun even if she owned one.

      You gun-nuts are so predictable, you assume that guns can solve all your problems, but usually they just make more problems.

      • Brutus

        You anti-gun shmucks are so predictable. You assume a gun can never be used in self-defense, but it happens every day. If a gun can’t be used in self-defense, why do cops carry them? You going to tell me the cops are smarter than me? That would be hilarious! You might want to do some objective research before you try to debate anyone on guns. And by objective, I don’t mean The Brady Campaign.

        • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

          you don’t hear of too many cops male or female getting forced to raid their ATM machines

          • dust truck

            The perps usually target their victims based on whether the victim will fight back. Adding guns into the equation changes nothing.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            oh, you think a person with a gun looks like a victim? is someone with a gun more or less likely to fight back? is it not convenient to have a whole city full of women you know are unarmed if you are a criminal?
            if you really believe they don’t change anything at all why are you against them?

          • dust truck

            I thought we were talkign about concealed weapons. If the perp can’t see the gun, then he’ll attack. How fast can you pull out your gun, release the safety and “protect” yourself? Can you do it while a knife is pressed to your neck?

          • Brutus

            I’ll carry the gun. You try and get that close with your knife. But remember what the man said: Never bring a knife to a gun fight. The first rule of self-defense is awareness, so the chances of a perp getting close to me with a knife is very slim.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            i always believed the mind was the best weapon.

          • jefe68

            The funny thing about life is it’s very unpredictable.
            The chances are very good that someone can catch you off guard and shot or stab you. A lot of muggers work in pairs so as to distract the person they want to rob.
            But you seem to be a super hero extra special powers.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            victims are chosen because their energy exudes victim. women with guns don’t have that energy. I notice you choose not to comment on the idea that a city where the criminals know that women are unarmed is less safe than one in which women are armed.who carries a gun with a manual safety these days? zim seemed to do alright whilst his head was being slammed in the concrete. I would like you to expand on your conception of what a typical attack is like, its fascinating.

          • David F

            I average just under 1 second according to my PACT timer.

            Yes I can.

            Training is everything.

          • dust truck

            With a knife pressed to your neck? In a high-pressure situation, not just when you’re goofing off at the shooting range? Are you a 20-something woman living in southie?

          • David F

            Yes I can. That is what training is about, preparing for high pressure situations.

            I do not goof off at the range. I don’t ever goof off when a firearm is involved.

            No I’m not. Though that is completely irrelevant. Are you suggesting a 20-something woman isn’t capable of doing the same? Anyone who chooses to can train to the same level of competence as I have.

          • jefe68

            Have you ever really shot anyone? Just curious, because from what I understand that all the training in the world does not make up for the reality of a situation when your adrenaline is off the charts. I know this is experienced by cops all the time. They do well on the range and sometimes they let off a lot of rounds and hit nothing during a shootout.

          • Brutus

            Putting guns in the hands of the potential victims changes everything. No perp wants to target someone who might shoot their ass off. They want to target someone who will be helpless against their assault.

          • dust truck

            So are either of you suggesting that we force people to carry guns? What if they don’t want to? Don’t you like freedom from government forcing you to do something?

          • Brutus

            Dust truck,
            Try not to put words in my mouth. No one is suggesting that anyone be required to carry a gun, and for you to even suggest that that is what we’re saying is disingenuous and dishonest.

        • dust truck

          I can cite to thousands of cases where people either die by their own guns or die in an “accident” with guns.

          http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/07/27/1225271/-GunFAIL-XXVIII

          I know. Liberal website and all… probably lies told by the great Kenyan usurper.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            are you counting suicide? not counting suicides there are far less than 1000 cases like that per year.are there any non-communist sources for that info? there somewhere between 100,000 and 2 million defensive uses of firearms in America per year.

          • Brutus

            Yes, it is a Liberal website and their statistics (damn lies) are deliberately skewed. Here’s a stat for you: In the years since most states have instituted laws giving citizens the right to carry concealed, crime has dropped. Look it up.

          • dust truck

            Yes, I looked it up and found a lot of damn lies on Conservative websites. Seems like everyone is lying to make their point. Except the conservatives have a history of disregarding scientific evidence when it goes contrary to their beliefs, so I’ll choose to believe the liberals.

          • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

            kellerman

          • fun bobby

            I know a lot of people call liberals communists but I think that is an actual communist site

          • David F

            Here is an excerpt from a CDC sponsored study:

            “Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed. Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year…

            …Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies…”

            http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18319&page=R1

          • dust truck

            doesn’t solve the problem of negligent use of fire arms. But it’s hard to find studies showing that when the NRA shuts down any attempts to get scientific consensus.

          • David F

            The CDC has statistics on all deaths in the US, by cause. The FBI has statistics on all of the crime. Between those two you can find all the information you like.

          • dust truck

            which actually disproves your argument, so are you still blindly ignoring facts?

          • David F

            How so exactly? The number of homicides and injuries were firearms were used doesn’t even come close to the number of times a firearm has been used in self defense.

      • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

        I think his point was that in general the more women who carry guns the better. if a majority of women carried them they would be victimized as a class far less often

  • JPReturns

    This link is to an article about a very specific crime
    pattern called the “Express Kidnapping” which is basically an
    abduction and forced ATM withdrawal. It explains the details of how the crime
    pattern plays out, how to expose the data and most importantly, the details of
    how political corruption keeps the pattern from being tracked by the police. If
    you or someone you know was the victim of such a crime, read this and share it
    with everyone you know. Then send it to your local newspaper, news station and
    legislator. Get them to investigate it. This applies worldwide, not just in the
    US. http://atmsafetypin.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/8/

    • disqus_k3oycamN0W

      Thank you for the link .The article is a real eye opener: explains the root of the problem. This is the “dirtiest secret” of the banking industry (boards of directors of 4 largest banks and politicians on their payroll) that must be investigated by the media. Thousands of people pay with their lives for bank executives’ greed. But do we have independent media to investigate? They would rather do circus like Zimmerman case. What about class action lawsuit by victims’ families and surviving victims of ATM robberies against these 4 largest banks that block safety measures like distress buttons and emergency PINs?

      • JPReturns

        The media is NOT interested in investigating it. There isn’t a newspaper or tv news station in the country that doesn’t have at least one banker on its board of directors. Even a PBS station like WBUR probably has a banker on their board, and NO ONE who pisses off a board member has a future at that corporation. Further, banks pay big money for advertising in a time when newspapers and tv news stations are losing revenues. Class action lawsuits are the answer, but here’s the problem. The class action suit is just an individual lawsuit until the court “certifies” that the case is suitable as a class action and that the named plaintiff and the attorney are fit to represent the class. What SHOULD be happening but isn’t is that the lawsuit should be filed as an INTENTIONAL TORT on the part of the bank and name all other banks as co-defendants. (Class actions apply to both plaintiffs and defendants.) Until it is certified, the lawyer and his client are free to settle for any amount they choose. So, the bank always makes a big offer to settle the case and gets a confidentiality agreement so that if they talk about the case at all, they have to give back the money. In Amy Lord’s case, her family should sue the entire banking industry alleging reckless disregard for human life. Most likely, they will retreat into their shell. Families are horribly traumatized by the murder of a member. The bankers are perfectly aware of the harm their ATMs cause. They are simply more concerned with protecting the business model than they are the customer. They warn you about this kind of thing in law school. A corporation will incorporate the harm into their business model so that when they get sued, they simply deduct the damages from overhead and keep right on with business as usual. Exposure of the data is the only realistic solution that I can see. If the data is ever exposed, then all sorts of questions get asked. Of course, the people doing the asking will be the same reporters who ignored the body count in the first place. If the plaintiff lawyers really understood the big picture, they would NEVER settle a case for a measly $2 million. They’d file it as an intentional wrongful death and demand punitive damages of $200 million. Taken to the legal extreme, every bank board of directors in the US for the last 40 years should be indicted. They knew it was going on from the beginning. They can’t fix it without exposing it. People would be demanding to know why it wasn’t done ten years ago. You can call it whatever you wish, you can call it a “banking conspiracy”; you can call it a “business model that got out of control; but you can’t call it UNFORESEEABLE ON THE BANKS’ PART. They know all about it and they are A-OK with continuing things the way they are.

      • JPReturns

        p.s. Walk into any bank and ask them why they don’t use the reverse emergency PIN system and tell me what they say. They’ll tell you 1) It’s a bad idea; 2) It’s not technologically possible; or 3) Someone might get hurt if they panic and can’t use it. All of that is nonsense. Even if Victims A, B and C are incapable of using it, eventually, Victim D will use it and that will result in an arrest, saving victims E, F, G, etc. ANYTHING that increases the likelihood of an arrest will have that effect over the long term.

  • http://www.facebook.com/futo.buddy Futo Buddy

    an ATM security law? like the fees are not high enough, I think I have actually seen most of those security features. if people want those features the banks will install them

    • JPReturns

      Actually, the bankers just want to sweep the problem under the rug. The profit margin is so high that they can afford to pay off lawsuits instead of fixing the problem. If you want to understand it read this. http://atmsafetypin.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/8/

      • fun bobby

        right, consumers don’t care enough to push the issue

        • JPReturns

          Actually, they come in individually and ask the bankers for it. The bankers tell them it’s impossible to reprogram the computers to do that or that the police are against it (they never tell you which police though) and the public accepts it. Amy Lord’s family is now in shock. They’ve gone into withdrawal like every family does in their situation. They should be suing the bank for intentional wrongful death/business premises liability, but probably won’t because they don’t want to think they’re profiting from Amy’s death. But lawsuits are the only way to make the banks change their behavior.

          • fun bobby

            well then they should close their accounts there. if people actually cared they would do that. if they actually did that the banks would change.
            if I was robbed at a payphone should the phone company be liable? I am sure if they have a good case they will sue and more power to them if they do. personally I think they guy who robbed and killed her is at fault

          • JPReturns

            It’s just not that simplistic. The bankers have blocked the public from finding out how extensive the problem is. They tell the public not to worry, but the best evidence puts the body count at somewhere between 500 and 1000 murders per year. Probably more if you include victims like Lily Burk and Randi Gorenberg. People who don’t even carry ATM cards are attacked in the mere hope they do. What are THEY supposed to do about it? Read the link in its entirety. The situation is akin to a crack house, where the owner allows the building to be used by criminals. Eventually, the police accumulate enough evidence for the city to condemn the building and to indict the owner. Read it in its entirety. http://atmsafetypin.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/8/

          • fun bobby

            what’s nice about owning everything is owning the media. I don’t follow links from here for malware reasons. why don’t you start your own atm business that provides more security for the users? it could be a selling point as a lot of people are insecure these days. personally I use the drive up atm and when I use the walk up atm I am aware of my surroundings.

          • JPReturns

            Because the banking industry would have to cooperate. 15 years ago, I had contracts with several small banks. They requested their data service providers to install the system. They were informed that that would never happen and if they tried to do it on their own, their banks would be embargoed. That is, their cards would work only at their own ATMs and no one else’s. Cute huh?

          • fun bobby

            sounds like you have a pre 911 mentality, just kidding but where there is a will there is a way and if there is truly a demand for a product it will work. I have had the right idea at the wrong time before plenty of times. I was thinking if you made such an atm and people liked using it the banks would be lining up to buy you out in no time. what specific security feature could be installed on an atm to keep people from being robbed?

          • JPReturns

            The system is loaded onto the controller, not the ATM. Only 50 or 60 computers nationwide would have to be reprogrammed to do the whole country. The ATM itself has nothing to do with it.

          • fun bobby

            there is software that can prevent people from getting robbed at atms?

          • JPReturns

            There COULD be if the banks weren’t working so hard to deny that there is a problem. They could reprogram the banks’s computers, not the ATM itself, to recognize you had entered your regular PIN in reverse. Or, if your PIN were something like 2442, you could enter it “inside-out” , 4224. The computer would identify the transaction as a robbery, approve it like a perfectly normal transaction, but also route a message to the police. The banks don’t want people to be reminded of the danger, which they’ve been covering up for decades. Share this link with your friends, . http://atmsafetypin.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/8/

          • fun bobby

            and what exactly are the police going to do about it? their job is not to protect people. what good is them showing up 5-35 minutes after you are robbed? who will pay for all the false alarms? seems like that would make it 2x as easy to guess someone’s pin number. in this case in boston that would not have changed anything. I think you need to buy your own ATMs and give it a shot though maybe people will like it.

          • JPReturns

            Even 35 minutes, your number, would be better than 35 days when the body is found. Police response time to a CRIME-IN-PROGRESS call is 4 minutes on average nationwide. False alarms would require the user to “accidentally” hit all four digits in the exact wrong order. Merely transposing two digits would not be enough. As for buying my own ATMs, THAT WOULD NEVER WORK BECAUSE THE BANK COMPUTER IS THE CONTROLLER. I couldn’t even hook up to their network.

          • fun bobby

            I see a lot of random 3rd party ATMs in various places. in lousy neighborhoods the response times are much slower. I have to admire your passion for this issue. I wonder how many people carrying guns get robbed at atms

          • JPReturns

            I agree with David F. But the fact remains, the ATM industry, as it works now, encourages crime against EVERYONE, not just those willing to assume the risk of carrying a card. The location of the ATM doesn’t matter. ATM location had nothing to do with Amy being selected as a victim. But, bear this in mind, only about 50% of the card market has been achieved, so about half the time, the victim didn’t even carry an ATM card. ATMs encourage crime.

          • fun bobby

            the same argument could be said of cash in general. doesn’t really worry me too much. did you ever find out how many people with guns get atm hijacked?

          • JPReturns

            Having a gun is better than being unarmed, but guns are not perfect and no one should claim they are. Same question for both guns and emergency PINs. “ARE YOU BETTER OFF WITH IT OR WITHOUT IT?”

          • fun bobby

            I have seen call buttons on atms. guns are far from perfect. I think its an ok idea. perhaps you could make a cell phone app that would activate when you are within a few feet of an ATM and if you tap the screen three times or something like that it would contact the authorities. it would be better than the other idea because then they could be told your actual location in real time from the gps and you don’t need the banks involved at all. now get cracking

          • JPReturns

            One of the first things they do is take your cellphone. Criminals aren’t all that stupid.

          • fun bobby

            if they were smart they would not be criminals. if they are smart then they will catch on to the backwards pin trick too

          • JPReturns

            You want them to “catch on” because if they know it’s there, they lose the motive to commit murder. No matter whether it is used or not, and no matter what the victim tells them, they cannot be sure, once the money comes out, that it was the regular PIN that was used or not. That changes their situation from robbery, murder, hide the body and clean out the bank account to Grab-the-money-and-run, leaving the victim alive.

          • fun bobby

            or grab the money, pop a cap in the victim, and dip out. they adapt pretty easily.

          • JPReturns

            No extra profit in capping the victim. Just guarantees more effort to catch and arrest the perp.

          • fun bobby

            no witness. why else do they do it now?

          • JPReturns

            Still money in the account. They got the PIN, they got the card. By hiding the body, they delay it being cancelled. Victim is listed as missing-involuntary.

          • fun bobby

            like I said it sounds like a fine idea. these sorts of things would not happen if more law abiding people were armed

          • David F

            “Police response time to a CRIME-IN-PROGRESS call is 4 minutes on average nationwide.”

            As the saying goes, “when seconds count the police are only minutes away.”

            Four minutes is an eternity during which the only person who can save you in the event of a robbery or kidnapping or violent attack is you. By the time the police get there it is all over.

            The reality is that your personal safety is your personal responsibility. You need to take whatever precautions you feel are necessary to stay safe. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk around oblivious head down looking at your phone. If you choose to, carry the most effective weapon you can and know how to use it.

  • Molly

    Guns save lives too!

    • dust truck

      Guns have one purpose: to kill. Even if they “save” someones life by killing someone else, someone still died.

      • fun bobby

        guns have many purposes and uses. often times a gun need not even be fired to be a very effective form of self defense. if she did have to actually shoot the guy, had she been in possession of the firearm and the guy actually died, in this case the life saved would be a nice young lady and the dead party the criminal scumbag. that would be a real shame?

  • SurrahB

    can people just please, please stop saying “ATM machine” ??

  • JPReturns

    To the People of Massachusetts:
    I am the inventor the reverse PIN system for ATM users. I don’t want any more families to have to go through what Amy Lord’s is now going through. Since at least 1986, the police have been complaining that they could not track forced withdrawals. Right now these crimes get lumped in with robberies and the ATM connection disappears. They need a dedicated crime code section for “forced ATM withdrawal” that will alert them to the criminals who specialize in this crime. If they had such a statute, they could connect Crime A to Crime B which would in turn allow them to make an arrest before Crime C occurs. Alemany
    has most likely committed similar crimes before that did not involve a murder
    and could have been caught. The banking lobby has repeatedly blocked legislation all over the country that would have made a forced withdrawal a distinct felony. This protected their business model. It also made it harder on thepolice than it should be. (Illinois 3 times, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Kansas, California and Oregon that I can find.) There are now two“backdoor” methods to find out this information. The easiest is an email survey of all police departments by the Mass State Police. Anyone who wants to know more about it, http://atmsafetypin.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/8/
    The public should know the facts but the banking industry wants to protect itself. The day the data becomes public informaiton out is the day things change.
    Joe Zingher, esq
    Gurnee, IL

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