Fraud fears rise as ATM devices seized
Published 16/01/2011 | 05:00
Customs officers at Dublin Airport have seized three 'new generation' skimming devices which, it is believed, can get around new ATM security equipment installed at a cost of millions of euros around the country.
A Bulgarian national, suspected of being part of a Roma gang, was detained and handed over to gardai who have been in contact with the Bulgarian police.
A customs source confirmed the three new devices were of a different design to previous ATM-skimming devices which had become largely redundant because of new anti-skimming equipment installed by the main banks.
Gardai are now concerned that a whole new round of ATM skimming could start as criminal gangs target Ireland with the new devices.
The devices are being examined to see how they work and warnings are expected to be issued to banks and the public if, as is expected, the equipment is found to be capable of getting round the bank's new security equipment.
The number of robberies from ATMs fell off dramatically after banks installed the new counter-electronic equipment. The last major operation involved the skimming of bank card numbers at an Ulster Bank ATM in Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin last September.
It is understood the ATM in question did not have new security equipment installed -- and Ulster Bank refused to say whether or not it had.
Tens of thousands were taken from customers' accounts and the device was removed before gardai could get to the ATM. One man had €11,000 taken from his AIB account. At least 50 customers of the AIB branch in Baggot Street had money taken from their accounts.
Gardai say people should show care and cover their hand while tapping in their pin number as the devices use a micro-camera to record the pin while the card's magnetic strip is being copied.
The Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO), which monitors ATM skimming, said that although there were almost no reports of skimming in 2009 there had been an upsurge last year mainly targeting machines without the new security equipment.
There were 36 skimming attempts made from April to September of 2010, 24 of which were successful, while the other 12 didn't work because they had anti-skimming devices installed, a spokeswoman said.
Another unsuccessful attempt was made to skim a Bank of Ireland ATM in Talbot Street in Dublin at Christmas.
Gardai and the IPSO urged people to be vigilant about using their cards and pin numbers at checkouts where there have been instances of 'shoulder surfing'.
This is where thieves spy on the customer inputting their pin code, and then pickpocket the victim. One woman had €25,000 stolen from her bank account by this method.
A Roma couple were convicted last month of stealing €20,000 from people whose cards they stole after looking over their shoulders to get their pin numbers.
The couple had targetted pubs and clubs in Dublin city centre. The man was jailed for seven months and the woman deported.