Example: [Collected via e-mail, January 2004]
A team of organized criminals is installing equipment on legitimate bank ATMs in at least
The equipment used to capture your ATM card number and PIN is cleverly disguised to look like normal ATM equipment. A "skimmer" is mounted to the front of the normal ATM card slot that reads the ATM card number and transmits it to the criminals sitting in a nearby car.
At the same time, a wireless camera is disguised to look like a leaflet holder and is mounted in a position to view ATM PIN entries.
The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM.
|A false card slot is affixed over the original card slot. The false slot holds an additional card reader used to copy card information.|
|An ordinary monitor and pamphlet holder?|
|The pamphlet holder houses a hidden micro-camera.|
|The hidden camera is angled to view the monitor and the keypad and transmit wireless photos of them up to |
|The camera hidden in the pamphlet box includes its own battery and transmission antenna.|
Origins: Since the advent of the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) a few decades ago, banks and their customers have had to deal with a new form of theft: card-skimming. Card-skimming is the collection of ATM card numbers and PINs for the purpose of stealing money from bank accounts, a scheme accomplished through methods as low-tech as
The scheme described in the e-mail warning quoted above is one of the decidedly high-tech variety: a phony card slot installed over the real one scans information from an entered card's magnetic stripe, and a small camera hidden within an adjacent pamphlet holder records information from the ATM's display screen and keyboard. The pilfered information is sent via a wireless transmitter to waiting thieves, who can capture it on a laptop from up to
The very scheme pictured here was indeed used in South America to steal information (and money) from customers of Bradesco, a Brazilian bank:
A wireless transmitter inside the box then sends the video to the scammers, who can capture the information on a computer in a nearby car or building. The thieves can be up to
A spokesperson for NCR, the ATM giant which produced the cash machine shown in the
Police in Canada, the United States and Malaysia have reported cases of fraud using similar hi-tech methods.
Each camera, equipped with a transmitter and batteries, was hidden behind a fake panel affixed to the top of the ATM casing, a source said. The machines were at the bank's Tai Ho Road branch.
The home-made panels were described by the source as highly sophisticated and not easily seen.
They were very thin and only about 7cm high, matching the width of the ATMs and painted the same colour.
The cameras were positioned to view the keypads and monitors of the machines to spy on cardholders as they entered their personal identification numbers.
The devices are understood to have been able to transmit images to a remote receiver in the area and had been there for two or three days.
Skimming techniques can be used not only at banks and other ATM sites, but also at many point-of-sale locations (such as gas station pumps) where customers commonly use debit cards to pay for purchases. Although ADT announced in 2009 that they had developed a device to prevent card skimming, this form of fraud remains a concern for consumers. As recently as January 2010, a Boston area man was arrested for using cameras and a skimming device to steal over $100,000 from the accounts of bank customers.
Although other schemes (such as the introduction of
| ATM Fraud: Banking on Your Money
Lo, Clifford. "ATM Cameras Found by Chance." South China Morning Post. 9 January 2004 (p. 1). Shepardson, David. "Police Accuse Man of ATM Scheme." The Detroit News. 5 December 2003. Taylor, Neil. "Bank Customers Warned of Hi-Tech Thievery at ATMs." South China Morning Post. 16 December 2003 (p. 3). WBZ-TV [Boston]. "New Device Prevents ATM Skimming Thefts." 11 March 2009. WBZ-TV [Boston]. "Man Allegedly Ran Sophisticated ATM Skimming Scam." 28 January 2010.