High-tech thieves steal PINs

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Sydney, Mar 9 (UNI) The next time you visit ATMs, be careful of high-tech thieves using your card details and accessing your accounts.

The crooks place dummy card scanners over the slot where cards go into the ATM to read the card's magnetic strip. Tiny cameras are hidden above the ATM to record the secret pin number being punched in.

St George Bank had to call up to 100 customers last week to tell them their cards had been cancelled as they had probably been skimmed.

Arncliffe pensioner Annette Cruger was told by St George Bank's fraud section her account had been illegally accessed in Canada over the weekend and 1100 dollars had been stolen.

"The bank said they had to call 80 to 100 customers who had been 'skimmed' at ATMs and the bank had to cancel their cards to stop more money being stolen from their accounts," she said while quoting to Sun Herald.

''The bank did not seem to know where the card had been skimmed as they asked me which ATMs I normally use so they could cross-reference it with others who had been skimmed.'' Fraud squad head Detective Superintendent Col Dyson said his squad busted an international skimming gang of Bulgarians two years ago who had plundered 1.6 million dollars from 600 accounts, but he could not say if the same gang was back.

Seven gang leaders escaped the police net and fled to Canada where they raided Australian accounts at ATMs around Toronto using cards copied from the Sydney operation.

Detective Sergeant Peter Meagher said the skimming devices were cleverly disguised. But all the experts agree there is a perfect low-tech solution to the high-tech crime: shield your hand typing in the pin code so the hidden camera can't see it.

UNI XC NC BST1056

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