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Police warning on ATM skim scam

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay -
"the most-proactive anti-fraud cop in Australia".

HIGHLY sophisticated bankcard skimming devices have been found attached to ATMs in Brisbane's Queen St Mall, for the first time in Australia.

The devices are installed over the top of ATM card slots in just seconds and have put thousands of shoppers at risk ahead of Christmas, police warn.

"It's a perfect time to strike because of the high volume of turnover in the ATMs," Detective Superintendent Brian Hay of the fraud squad said.

"We know cards have been compromised over the days prior to the discovery and we know money has been withdrawn from accounts.

"We also know the fraudsters have had possession of these devices, we suspect, for the last five months."

The devices target specific ATM models and were found in two adjacent machines in Queens Plaza last week.

A customer noticed something amiss with an ATM belonging to one of the big four banks and contacted the fraud squad.

A second device was discovered in a machine connected to another major bank.

Almost-undetectable pinhole cameras record customers entering PINs while the devices simultaneously record card data in the all-in-one devices.

"We've heard of them in Europe but it's the first time we've seen them in Australia," Supt Hay said. "The concern is how many other machines have these been on over the last three or four months.

"Once upon a time it would have taken them longer because they had to fit a camera up the top. This is all in one. That would take them five seconds to fit," he said.

Police are searching for a man (pictured below) they believe is linked to the discovery of two ATM skimming devices over the weekend. They have released images of a man in a suit who police say "may be able to assist them with their investigations".

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Even if ATM customers conceal their hand as they enter PINs, criminals can still use skimmed card data to purchase goods online.

The devices are equipped with memory cards that can store extended video footage and the details of thousands of cards at a time.

This man is wanted for questionning
over the ATM card fraud in Brisbane.

Two separate micro-USBs also allow criminals to retrieve video recordings and data and then reuse the devices.

"When they go back to retrieve it they pull it off, plug it into their laptop then and there and it downloads all the data for them. They recharge, reset, clear the memory and go again," Supt Hay said.

Organised crime gangs based in eastern Europe have made a fortune using skimming devices.

"They will go and buy an ATM. Then they will engineer precisely the mould for how they're going to put it on top so it looks good.

"There's even been circumstances where they will go and secure the exact same paint that's on the ATM from the same paint factory so they match everything perfectly."
However despite their detailed design, the devices rely on double-sided adhesive and can come loose.

"Beware of anyone acting suspiciously around ATMS and report it. Always give the card entry point a bit of a wiggle to make sure it's firmly and completely attached," Supt Hay said. "It's going to look flush but you've got a seam line on the outside which is not normally there."


COMMENT: Det Supt Brian Hay is undoubtedly at the forefront of fraud investigation and detection in Australia.  He regularly exposes the cons and scams which have proliferated since the advent of the internet.  Whether its Nigerian bank scams, lonely hearts ripoffs or ATM fraud, Brian is relentlessly hot on the trail of the fraudsters and scammers who are a blight on our society.  He is without doubt the most-proactive anti-fraud cop in Australia. The Queensland Police are at the forefront of this work, leaving the various other state and territory police services and the Australian Federal Police way behind.  Brian Hay and his team deserve full congratulations for their commitment, persistence and vigilance in both their educative and investigative roles. -