The Irish Payment Services Organisation said the fraudsters place a device on the ATM that traps the user’s card inside the machine. The bank customer only realises that the card is not being returned when they complete their cash transaction.
The criminal, who has watched the person key in their personal identification number (PIN), offers to help recover the card but actually gives the customer back a similar-looking card.
Because the victim of the fraud has already withdrawn money, they do not realise that the “retrieved” card is not theirs until they try and use it again.
Meanwhile, the fraudster, who has retrieved the victim’s card from the card slot, utilises this time to use the card to withdraw money before the victim reports it has been stolen to the bank. IPSO said the fraudsters have been using kiosks in bank branches to transfer funds to foreign accounts using the stolen cards.
In the past week, the IPSO has been made aware of six cases that resulted in losses of €30,000.
IPSO’s head of card services, Una Dillon, said criminals seemed to be targeting elderly people in particular.
“The six cases may appear quite small but we know there are more than that. We are still compiling figures,” she said.
Ms Dillon said some people were failing to cover their hand when using the PIN keypad at an ATM.
At the moment, the ATM scam is mainly occurring around Dublin. However, Ms Dillon warned that the criminals were likely to go to other areas of the country. She urged people to be aware of people around them when using an ATM. IPSO is particularly anxious that elderly and vulnerable people are made aware of the scam.
“Customers should cover the PIN pad when using an ATM and should report to their bank any unusual activity, such as the capture of their card in an ATM,” she said.
Age Action’s Eamon Timmins said public awareness was the only way to defeat the ATM fraudsters.
“Unfortunately, we don’t live in a society that is trusting and honest anymore so people have to be careful how they deal with electronic cash withdrawals,” he said.
* Updates on the scam are available at IPSO’s fraud prevention website www.SafeCard.ie and on the SafeCard Facebook page.