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ATM fraud: Police investigation reveals fraudsters use device to retain card and watch for PINs



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A police investigation into thefts from ATM machines across Hertfordshire has revealed that criminals inserted a device to retain customers' cards and watched them as they input their PINs.

Hertfordshire Constabulary issued a warning last month following a spate of 14 thefts where people's cards were retained by the machines and then used to make purchases or withdrawals. An offence in Bishop's Stortford in January in which the victim lost £500 after using the Lloyds bank cashpoint in North Street is being linked to these crimes.

Police initially thought that a device had been inserted to scan the cards, with the information then being transmitted remotely to fraudsters who could duplicate a card for use.

Police poster warning about fraud at ATM machines
Police poster warning about fraud at ATM machines

But issuing an update this week, Det Sgt Mark Fava, from the constabulary’s serious fraud and cyber unit, said: "Following an investigation carried out by experts within the banking industry, it appears that in each of the reported thefts the machines retained the victim’s bank card due to a discreet device which had been placed over the card slot of the machine.

"Initially it was thought the device was scanning the cards and then transmitting the details and PIN to the offender. However, in each case it appears that the offender, or accomplice, has watched the victim input the PIN and then retrieved the trapped card. The offender has then later used the stolen card and PIN at another ATM.

"The best way to avoid this happening to you is to cancel or suspend your bank card if it is retained by an ATM. If you have a banking app on your phone you may be able to freeze your card temporarily until you can establish what has happened. Alternatively, you may need to call your bank to cancel or suspend the card until it has been recovered.”

As well as the usual precautions when using an ATM to withdraw cash, such as shielding your PIN from view, police advise examining the machine before use.

If anything looks out of place or it has any parts which appear to have been added, do not use it and report your suspicions to the bank. If the machine fails to return your card or any cash you have withdrawn, you should contact your bank to inform them and then the police on 101.



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