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ATM in Central Islip gives out fake notes

Martha O'Neal, of Islandia and her niece, Yvonne

Martha O'Neal, of Islandia and her niece, Yvonne Robertson, of Central Islip, went to the Hess Express gas station on Joshua's Path in Central Islip to withdraw money from an ATM machine and it dispensed fake paper money. Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Usually, ATMs spit out bills, but what Martha O'Neal of Islandia got from a Chase machine in Central Islip was green and worthless.

The word "Cardtronics" was splashed where the face of a U.S. president should have been, and O'Neal, who wanted $200, thought she'd been scammed Friday night with "fake money" from the ATM at the Hess gas station store.

Her receipt showed the money had been deducted from her account.

"I've never seen anything like this before in my life, and I never thought anything like this can happen," the retiree, 63, said Friday night as she waited with her niece Yvonne Robertson of Central Islip for police to take her report.

When another card user touched the machine, the top dropped down and the bottom swung open, she said.

Suffolk police said they took complaints from three card users.

But it was no scam, just "test money" mistakenly left inside the gas station's ATM, Hess spokeswoman Lorrie Hecker said Saturday.

Gas stations charge rent to companies that put ATMs on their premises, and in this case, the Chase bank machine is run by Houston-based Cardtronics, a global ATM management business. The test money is used to make sure the ATM works properly.

"The new machine left the warehouse with the test money still loaded inside," Hecker said.

She said Hess is not responsible for the ATMs but will help resolve problems for customers.

Chase spokesman Michael Fusco said the bank is aware of the issue.

"We are looking into the situation and do not have all the facts yet," he said.

Cardtronics officials could not be reached for comment.

O'Neal, who feared her PIN had been skimmed, Saturday said the explanation made her feel only a "little bit better."

"I'm still out $200," she said.

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