A SKIMMING device in an ATM outside a Blairgowrie newsagent may have helped defraud dozens of Bendigo Bank customers last week.
Major Fraud Squad police are investigating claims up to 54 customers lost thousands of dollars before the device was discovered in the keypad, Monday 2 May.
It is believed the ATM was compromised in the last week in April and the fraudulent transactions discovered later.
Detective Senior Constable Peter Jessup said the scam had taken place but would not elaborate on the scammers’ techniques or the number of customers affected.
However, it seems things have moved on from the days when ATM customers only had to cover their hands when keying in pin numbers. In this scam, a doctored keypad records pins which are then used by criminals to make duplicate cards. These can then be used at bank branches anywhere.
The shopping centre was busy on the weekend, with customers using the ATM – the only one in the village – to access money from a range of banks.
One of the defrauded customers, Judith Mordech, of Blairgowrie, said she got a call from Bendigo Bank security staff early that day and was told they had put a temporary stop on her card after noticing it had been used at Westpac and ANZ branches at Ringwood, Lilydale and Ripponlea, over the previous three days, to withdraw her $1000 daily maximum three times.
On top of that, she was charged $2.50 in other-bank ATM fees for each transaction.
She was asked to call in at the bank in Point Nepean Rd, Rye, to fill out a security form and was told the bank would reimburse the amounts stolen – but that it would take up to six weeks.
She said staff at the branch told her that outlying ATMs were more liable to be affected as they are not checked daily, meaning fraudulent transactions can go unnoticed for longer, and CCTV may not be available.
It is believed criminals sell duplicate cards to other criminals in what Mrs Mordech believes “must be a thriving industry”.
“We [she and husband Alan] know of a few other people – many of them retired – who were scammed over that weekend,” she said.
“There are four cards in our little group and, although none of us were adversely affected, it still makes us feel ill at ease.
“The moral of the story is that it’s safer to use an ATM at a bank branch in a shopping centre.”
Bendigo Bank Rye manager Heather Williams would not comment on the scams, but PR spokeswoman Annie Herbert said fraud monitoring strategies were in place to prevent and detect fraud.
“When we detect suspicious activity we notify our customers immediately,” she said.
To protect themselves from fraudulent activity, including skimming, customers should be mindful of their surroundings when making a transaction and not proceed with a transaction if they notice any suspicious behaviour or devices at or around an ATM or EFTPOS terminal.