THIEVES are using “card skimming” devices made from cigarette packets and iPods to steal cash from victims making withdrawals at autoteller machines.
A spate of thefts has been reported across the Lothians in the last week, sparking a warning to bank customers to be on their guard.
The criminals use empty cigarette packets, slotting them inside ATMs to prevent cash cards from being returned.
Small, thin £170 iPod Nanos, secretly taped to the roof of the dispensers simultaneously capture customers’ personal identification numbers – leaving accounts free to be plundered once people wander off to complain or find out why their card has seemingly been swallowed.
In a second scam, so-called “cash traps” are attached to the money dispenser on machines to stop notes being released. After the customer leaves, the thieves collect the withdrawal themselves.
A spate of attacks have been recorded across the region.
At a Co-Op machine on Clayknowes Road, Musselburgh, East Lothian, last Wednesday a customer’s card was swallowed in a fraud which resulted in £300 being stolen from their account.
A card-skimming device was discovered the same day at a Co-Op ATM in the High Street in Bonnyrigg, Midlothian. A cash trap device fitted to a dispensing slot was found on a machine at the Tesco store on Olivebank Road, Musselburgh, also on Wednesday.
The following day, another cash trap was recovered on the Co-op ATM in the High Street in Tranent, East Lothian, while an iPod Nano found stuck to the surface of the Co-op machine on Links Road in Port Seton, East Lothian, on Saturday.
Detective Sergeant Keith Mackay said officers are “working hard” to catch the sneaky crooks. He said: “The criminals have been using a number of different devices on ATM machines in the area. Some, such as card skimmers, capture the account details from the customer’s cards, and a second device, which is fitted with a miniature camera, records the keystrokes on the ATM’s keypad. Both devices are made to look like they belong to the ATM so customers are urged to take extra care.
“Other devices are being used to trap cash in the dispensing slot, making the customer believe the machine is faulty. This can also put the machine out of service. The criminal then removes the trap with the customer’s cash.”
Craig Jones, of Financial Fraud Action UK, said the latest figures show that in 2013 losses due to skimmed and cloned cards had fallen by almost 75 per cent since their peak in 2008. “While any instance of fraud at an ATM is concerning, taking your money from cash machines remains very safe,” he said.
BEAT THE FRAUDSTERS
POLICE Scotland advice includes:
• Check the card reader before inserting your card. If you are suspicious, then do not use it and contact the bank or police immediately.
• Check for additions to the ATM that look out of place, such as a leaflet holder which could also contain a hidden camera. Do not attempt to remove any suspicious device, as the criminals are likely to be nearby and watching the machine.
• Always cover your hand fully as you enter your PIN by using your other hand or a wallet or purse as a shield.
• Be aware of your surroundings at all times – is someone standing behind you watching you as you use the ATM? If you are not comfortable then stop the transaction and inform the bank, security staff or police.
• Check your account balance regularly and inform your bank if your account shows any transactions you did not make.