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ATM camera scam warning

Eastern European crime gangs are raiding cash machines across Northern Ireland with sophisticated card-skimming devices, the PSNI warned today.

The gangs are manufacturing the devices in eastern Europe and then smuggling them into the province where they can fit them onto ATM machines within minutes, allowing them to read card details and pin numbers.

Bank and credit cards are then being cloned for use in clearing out bank accounts.

Detective Constable Tommy Hutton – who deals with cheque and plastic crime within the PSNI’s Economic Crime Bureau — said those behind the card skimming are dangerous gangs who are also involved in prostitution, drugs and other types of high level criminality.

“We are having problems with devices being installed at ATMs. This type of thing is mainly an eastern European scam.

“People don’t realise that most types of fraud are being carried out by organised crime gangs.

“They can be very serious individuals or groups involved in this type of criminality. They are not very nice individuals,” said Mr Hutton

He added: “I have seen CCTV footage of an organised crime gang carrying out one of these attacks on an ATM machine.

“It took two minutes for them to install the card reader and the camera and within seconds a customer was coming to use the machine.

“The devices are only there for the battery life of the camera. Within just two hours of them receiving the information they will be at an ATM machine withdrawing your cash.”

Although these gangs have been working on an international level for several years, skimming cards across the US, Australia, the UK and many European countries, they have just recently begun to hit ATMs within the province.

Three devices have been seized by police over the past year after they were spotted by members of the public.

The devices are fitted over legitimate ATM machines and usually consist of a memory chip which copies the details on the payment card.

A small camera or a mobile phone is placed above the key pad so the customer can be filmed entering their pins.

The device is left in place for a short period of time and removed when finished. New technology is beginning to emerge however which allows the information to be sent electronically to laptops.

  • Skimming is a process whereby the data from a card's magnetic strip is electronically copied on to another card.
  • The equipment used to capture card numbers and PINs are disguised to look like normal ATM equipment and are fitted over legitimate ATMs.
  • A ‘skimmer’, which usually consists of a memory chip, is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals who are usually waiting close by.
  • A small camera, mobile phone or other recording device is placed above or close to the key pad so the customer can be filmed entering their pins.
  • The details can then be used to produce replica cards.
  • How To Prevent It:
  • Wherever possible, always use the same ATM machine, and be very cautious if there are any changes, even a new leaflet holder.
  • Use a machine within the bank itself if possible.
  • Cover your hand as you enter your PIN, holding your other hand above it.
  • Always take your receipt. It does not contain your full number, but don't give criminals any information at all.

Belfast Telegraph