|SCAM SCHOOL |
SEAN DOUGLAS and NALINEE SEELAL Thursday, March 10 2016
FOREIGNERS, mainly from South America, are in this country coaching local criminals on how to steal money from banks’ automatic teller machines (ATM), ATM expert Derek Carrington said yesterday.
Carrington, of Massy Technologies, spoke at a seminar on cyber security held at the Arthur Lok Jack School of Business in Mount Hope.
Speaking on the theme, ‘Fraud and security in the ATM channel”, the expert said that each year globally, $12 billion in ATM card fraud occurs. This includes $2.4 billion lost to ‘card skimming’, $21 million lost to ‘ram-raiding’, $3.2 million lost to ‘card trapping’ and $12 million lost to ‘logic attacks’ on the ATM software.
Card skimming occurs when thieves steal a victim’s card and personal identification number (PIN) and then transfer it to a dummy card which they then use to withdraw funds from the victim’s account. A skimming device, which mirrors the shape of the ATM’s card slot is placed over the legitimate slot of the ATM and when unsuspecting customers push their cards into the slot, the device ‘skims’ the PIN entered.
Card trapping, Carrington said, occurs when a thief interferes with an ATM to make it retain a victim’s card which the thief then retrieves after the victim leaves the ATM site. Ram-raiding is the use of a motor vehicle to physically attack the ATM to try to get its a cash. Carrington said up to $150,000 can be stolen via this means per attack.
Logic attacks are made against the ATM’s software and each on average nets $150,000. Saying these types of frauds are committed by the likes of Colombian rebel group FARC; the Russian mafia and terrorist outfit ISIS, noting, “This ATM fraud is big business!” Saying South America is one of the international ‘hot spots’ for ATM fraud, Carrington told the gathering that South Americans have visited several Caribbean countries where tourism is heavy - including Trinidad and Tobago (TT) - where they hold ‘classes’, tutoring local criminals on the rudiments and theory of ATM fraud.
“These fraud criminals go where the money is. Some $80 billion is held in ATMs around the globe. That’s a lot of money,” Carrington said. He added that investigations into the skimming attacks during the Christmas season showed fraudsters had actually skimmed the electronic details of their victims’ linx and credit cards in September and October.
The skimming was done during the Christmas season when extra funds would have been deposited in accounts. He said point-of-sale fraud is very high in TT and urged card-holders to swipe their cards themselves in devices when making purchases in shops. “Don’t let your card out of your sight,” he warned. He related instances where a waitress in a restaurant dropped a customer’s credit card and secretly ‘skimmed’ it via a swipe device fastened to her ankle.
3 LATINOS HELD Senior Fraud Squad officers yesterday confirmed to Newsday that police have arrested three persons - one from Ecuador and two from Spain - in connection with a massive ATM fraud racket which took place between September and last month and robbed card holders of millions.
Police also confirmed that after interviewing the suspects they discovered that Latin Americans have been conducting a thriving trade in partnership with local fraudsters to fleece locals and tourists.
In one day alone, police sources said, one of the detained fraudsters was able to fleece Royal Bank account holders of $3 million via attacks at ATMs in specific areas.
In the case of the Ecuadorian suspect, he has since been jailed for two years with hard labour after pleading guilty to ATM fraud.
The two Spanish nationals, are in custody at Remand Yard pending the outcome of court cases relative to fraud.
“This is a serious concern to us at the Fraud Squad because what we see here is an extremely lucrative fraudulent business where millions of dollars are being fleeced on a daily basis. And while we acknowledge that the persons held are from Latin America we do believe that there is a European connection as well.
This kind of fraud not only affects locals but also tourists and this can hurt our already vulnerable tourism industry as tourists fleeced while in this country, will spread the word that Trinidad and Tobago is crime riddled including crimes of fraud,” said a senior source within Fraud Squad. He said all local commercial banks are working closely with the police in an effort to reduce ATM fraud.