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ATM card fraudsters keep it simple with cash trapping

Next time your bank card gets stuck in an ATM, don't assume it's a simple machine error – the number of cases of ATM fraud around the country has ballooned over the last year.

In the first six months of this year, there were 248 cases of ATM fraud around the country – 16 times the number of cases recorded over the same months in 2012, according to the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO), which combats card fraud.

A return to the more traditional card scams, such as card and cash trapping, is behind the latest surge in ATM fraud, according to Una Dillon, head of card services with IPSO.

"In 2012, there were few cases of skimming and a handful of card and cash-trapping incidents," said Ms Dillon. "By the end of 2012, there was a considerable increase in the number of cash and card-trapping incidents and this continued in 2013 – hence the increased figures."

Card and cash-trapping scams are easier to set up than the more sophisticated skimming fraud, where a thief swipes the information off the magnetic strip on the back of your card.

With cash-trapping, the criminal inserts a device that holds on to any cash requested from an ATM – and the criminal then retrieves that cash once the customer leaves.

With card-trapping, criminals insert tools into ATMs which 'trap' a customer's card once the card is put into the machine. The criminal watches the customer entering their PIN and when the customer leaves the area after being unable to remove their card, the criminal withdraws money from the customer's account.

Lebanese Loop fraud, where a criminal inserts a piece of video tape into an ATM to capture a card, is a type of card-trapping.

"Lebanese Loops were last seen about 15 years ago – but they're making a comeback," said Ms Dillon.

"Criminals are going back to the more simple types of fraud."

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Ms Dillon warned people to report any problems with ATMs immediately. "If cash doesn't come out of a machine or your card gets stuck, don't assume it's a problem with a machine, report the fault or lost card as soon as possible," she said.

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