Saturday 24 March 2018

ATM customer loses €11,000 in skimming scam

Two devices used by criminals intercepted on way to Ireland by Bulgarian customs officials


Gardai have again warned people to be careful when using cash machines after thousands of euros were taken from the accounts of people who used an ATM in central Dublin in the past two weeks.

Bulgarian customs officials have also seized two skimming devices being sent via express mail to Dublin. Two men were arrested in the country's capital city, Sofia.

Ulster Bank yesterday refused to comment on whether it was one of its machines which had been targeted but users complained that thousands had been taken from their accounts after using an ATM at Earlsfort Terrace. It is understood €11,000 was taken from one man.

By the time gardai were notified about the fraud the thieves had already removed the device. An investigation is underway, but 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.

When asked about the incident, Ulster Bank said it "does not comment on individual cases" adding: "However, Ulster Bank is aware of the practice of card 'skimming' and has stringent security procedures in place to deal with the matter efficiently and effectively. All cases of fraud are thoroughly investigated by the bank. On-screen warnings at ATMs advising its users to report any unusual activity to the gardai are in place at all Ulster Bank ATMs."

Bank of Ireland, AIB and National Irish Bank said they had no reports of any of their machines being skimmed.

After a succession of skimming robberies most banks introduced anti-skimming technology into ATMs, but it appears that the eastern European criminal gangs who are almost exclusively responsible for this type of crime have come up with new technology.

One victim of the skimmers, who lost €11,000, is believed to be an AIB customer. At least three others in offices close to his workplace also had their cards skimmed. It is understood that up to 50 customers of AIB's Baggot Street branch alone had their cards skimmed at the Earlsfort ATM. AIB and the other main banks have converted most, if not all, of their new ATMs to be resistant to skimming.

Announcing the seizure of the skimming machines on their way to Ireland, the Bulgarian Customs Agency said that 20 similar machines had been seized in the past eight months. The machines have been sent around the world in the past decade or more.

The Irish Payment Services Organisation, which monitors ATM skimming, said last week that the number of incidences of card skimming had risen sharply from last April.

Spokeswoman Una Dillon said: "We had seen a complete cessation of this type of crime from quarter three last year until the second quarter of this year."

There were 36 skimming attempts made since April and 24 were successful, while the other 12 didn't work because they had anti-skimming devices installed, she said.

The thieves are targeting the remaining few ATMs that have not yet been fitted with anti-skimming technology, but these ATMs are due to be upgraded over the coming weeks, she said.

Ms Dillon urged people using ATMs to cover their hand when tapping in their pin and to be vigilant about using their cards and pin numbers at supermarket check-outs 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.

"In cases where a customer clearly allows a criminal to shoulder surf and then access their card, this could be deemed as negligent, depending on the circumstances," she said.

Sunday Independent

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