A GARDA investigation is under way after hundreds of Bank of Ireland (BoI) customers had their accounts skimmed in two branches over the weekend.
Customers in two BoI branches in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny, and in Borris, Co Carlow, had their current accounts accessed from the United States over a three-day period in a scamming operation which yielded thousands of euros for fraudsters.
It is understood that a small camera was placed at the side of the ATM and electronic device slipped over where the card was placed into the machine. The data was then downloaded by computer and sold on to fraudsters in countries which do not use pin and chip cards – one country being the US where the fraudulent activity was noticed.
BoI branches in Roscommon and Mayo are also thought to have been hit in the past several weeks by the same scam.
Shocked husband and wife Sean and Margaret Hennessy from Knockbarron, Borris, both had their current accounts accessed over the weekend with almost €2,500 taken.
"We didn't know anything was wrong until Margaret went to use her Laser card over the weekend and it wouldn't work. The account became disabled and we didn't know why," said Mr Hennessy.
"We got a bit of a land when we called in to the branch in Graiguenamanagh and told that €2,100 had been taken from Margaret's account and that €340 had been taken from mine. Our accounts are to be reimbursed over the next couple of days.
"You really don't think it could happen to you but when it does it's a bit of a shock. There are a lot of very worried people here knowing that their accounts have been accessed."
Mr Hennessy said the bank told them that they would be reimbursed within 48 hours.
Word of the scam started to spread late on Sunday evening, which resulted in scores of worried customers queueing up outside the Graiguenamanagh branch on Monday and yesterday.
BoI customers in Borris were hit by the same scam over Valentine's weekend.
Numerous customers had more than €2,000 taken from their accounts while others had several hundred euro taken out in small amounts over several days.
It is understood that the scamming operation took place over three dates in January at the Graiguenamanagh and Borris branches but that the fraudulent withdrawals only appeared on customer accounts over two weekends.
Sums of €146.13 were taken from accounts over several days and showed up on account statements as $200 being withdrawn from ATMs in the US.
BoI confirmed that the gardai have been notified. All of the affected customers will have their accounts reimbursed over the next couple of days and new cards would be issued.
"BoI wishes to reassure customers that it is our policy to fully refund any losses sustained as a result of this criminal activity," it said in a statement.
"The bank is proactively contacting customers to confirm the fraud and issue replacement cards and will continue to closely monitor the situation, which is also under investigation by the gardai. The bank may also cancel and reissue cards to customers to protect them from fraud if their card details are at risk."