An e-mail doing the rounds in South Africa warns ATM users that organised criminals are installing equipment on the machines to steal both the ATM card number and its PIN.
The scam involves a square piece of equipment that is placed in front of the existing bank-card slot. It is disguised to look like normal ATM equipment.
The e-mail explains that the piece of equipment “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.”
A member of staff at Standard Bank, who did not wish to be identified, said this scam has been a constant threat for the past year, and the warning sent via e-mail is true.
Staff at Standard Bank and Absa all say they are occasionally told to be aware of such scams, and that there is nothing much more they can do.
The South African Police Service’s Superintendent Chris Wilken said: “There are discussions between all the banks and the police about these scams, so we do know about it.”
He didn’t know if there had been a case recently.
The last time this specific scam was reported in Johannesburg was at a FNB branch in Parkhurst about a year ago, said the Standard Bank staff member.
It is not the only ATM scam used by criminals. Another involves a plastic envelope inserted into the card slot so that the victim’s card becomes stuck in the slot. At the same time, criminals watch the victim type in the card’s PIN to use when they later retrieve the stuck card.