Cheshire Police are alerting the public to a series of cash point scams that are occurring across the county. Fraudsters are targeting cash machines positioned outside post offices, convenience stores and other outlets across Cheshire and the key message from the police is to be on your guard before you use a cash machine and be alert to suspicious activity from any cash machine points.
Operation Astoria has been put in place by the Economic Crime Unit to concentrate on crime related to ATMs (cash machines) within the Cheshire Force area. Many of the tactics being used by fraudsters to target machines are card skimming, card entrapment and cash trapping.
There are three main ways in which the fraudster will commit fraud:
- Card Skimming − This involves the use of the video recording element of mobile telephones to capture the pin numbers of innocent ATM users. These adapted mobile telephones are usually hidden above the pin number area. The fraudster will also attach a false mouth piece which will read and copy the details on the magnetic strip of the card. Once these details have been copied, this information can be transferred on to a new card and, with the pin number, they can withdraw money from the victims account.
- Card Entrapment − The fraudster will use an adapted mobile telephone to record the pin number being inputted by the victim but will use a device to trap the victims card once it has been placed into the machine. The victim usually believes that the card has been retained by the cash machine due to a problem. The fraudster will recover the original card and the pin number and is then ready to use the card.
- Cash Trapping − The fraudster will place a device over the area where the money is released from the cash machine. The device traps the money making the victim believe that the machine has a problem and is not releasing any funds. The fraudster will then collect the device and the money collected.
In the North West, UK card fraud has dropped considerably over the last five years but still accounts for £21m making this region the second worst in the UK.
DC Tony Condon, from the Economic Crime Unit stated that "There have been an increasing number of attacks on ATMs across Cheshire, where the fraudsters are using all three methods to obtain money from innocent victims. ATM users do not know they are victims until they realise their account balance has reduced more than normal.
Our intelligence suggests that organised crime groups are responsible for the attacks and are of Eastern European origin which has in turn led to more overseas spend on fraudulent use of UK cards and stolen identity. We are asking all members of the public to be vigilant when using a cash machine and to be aware of any suspicious activity around cash points, which may be an attempt to deploy a device."
If anyone wants to report any suspicious activity, please contact Cheshire Police on 101 or visit our fraud page at cheshire.police.uk.