Card skimming devices were ‘made from phones’

Cash machines in the centre of Edinburgh were targeted. Pic: file
Cash machines in the centre of Edinburgh were targeted. Pic: file
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FRAUDSTERS used “card skimming” devices made from mobile phones to target hundreds of bank customers withdrawing money from two of the city’s busiest cash machines.

The devices were attached to the autotellers at the RS McColl store in Frederick Street and the Thomas Cook in Hanover Street.

Police believe the card skimmers – which were discovered on Saturday – may have been fitted on Friday evening to allow the thieves to “plunder” accounts.

Officers have urged anyone who used the machines to check for unusual transactions on their accounts and contact their bank if they have fallen victim to the scam.

Cheap mobile phones were attached to the ATMs to record customer’s PIN numbers using the camera feature, while a second device copied bank card details.

A spate of card-skimming scams have hit the Capital in recent months, with iPod nanos often used to record PIN numbers.

Temporary sergeant Graham Belfall said: “The use of mobile phones is not unusual. Anything small in size with a camera allows them to record PINs. These cash machines have obviously been targeted because of their location and how often they are used.

“It’s likely those responsible have done this before. They know what they’re doing from looking at the devices used.

“We’re still trying to establish exactly when the devices were attached, but it most likely happened overnight from Friday.”

The device on Hanover Street was discovered at 7.20am on Saturday, while the Frederick Street skimmer was found at 12.50pm.

Temp Sgt Belfall said: “Anyone who believes they’ve been a victim of fraud should contact their bank in the first instance.

“Any theft should be covered by bank insurance, although you should check with your individual bank. If anyone believes they’ve seen a card skimming device on a cash machine they should contact police.

“Bank customers should generally be observant when they deal with cash machines. Cover the keypad when you enter PIN numbers and report anything suspicious.”

Pc Steven Skirving, who is leading the investigations, said: “The [card skimmers] are typically used for short periods of time, and it is good that we have been able to recover these devices and prevent further theft.

“However, it is possible that innocent members of the public are at risk from having their accounts plundered. Therefore, I would urge anyone who used either of these cash machines to check their bank account, either at a branch or by telephone or online. If anyone saw someone hanging about these machines, or apparently acting suspiciously, I would urge them to contact us.”

alan.mcewen@edinburghnews.com