Malfunctioning ATM in Bartow leads to skimming accusations against innocent men

Polk County

BARTOW, Fla. (WFLA) – Blake Stewart and Ricky Case got a rude awakening when they learned their faces were plastered on Facebook by the Bartow Police Department.

Surveillance images show the men at the ATM at a Citizens Bank and Trust.

The police department claimed the men tried to put a skimmer on the machine. The thing is, it was quite the opposite.

They said their card went into the machine during a transaction and something happened, causing it to malfunction.

“I hate that it happened to innocent guys like that, but all and all, I’m glad the people watching the ATM were taking care of it. There could’ve been a skimmer and we all have to worry about that,” resident David Fewox said.

Customers were sympathetic, realizing it could happen to anyone and a post on social media would make it a whole lot worse.

“It’s a shame they could ruin their reputation, their jobs, family life, in the neighborhood. That’s a terrible thing,” said Bernadette Burgess-Stege.

Over the phone, Stewart told 8 On Your Side that he’s seeking legal advice.

Bartow Dep. Chief Bryan Dorman said the post was hidden on Facebook as soon as officers realized the mistake.

Some residents are coming to the defense of the department.

“We can’t chastise the police department for making a mistake. Listen, they’re human beings,” resident Chris Purvis said.

Stewart declined to conduct an on-camera interview with 8 On Your Side.

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