Beat the scammers: police warn of ATM skimmers

THE State Crime Command's Fraud and Cyber Crime Group is warning shoppers and merchants to be vigilant during the busy festive season.

The Christmas shopping period is typically a prime time for transnational crime gangs to visit major shopping locations around Australia and target ATMs and stores.

Detective Superintendent Brian Hay said in the past fly-in fly-out criminals have targeted several cities in a co-ordinated set-up.

"They fly into the country, travel around the major centres and fly out with thousands of electronically stored compromised accounts," Detective Superintendent Hay said. "They then rip the money from those accounts in a co-ordinated manner simultaneously from multiple global locations.

"A number of ATMs have been recently compromised in the South East Queensland and it is well known that the festive season is a time favoured by criminal ATM skimming operations," he said.

The Australian Payments Clearing Association reported that more than $24 million was fraudulently obtained through skimming and counterfeit cards against Australian card holders last financial year. A further $11 million was attributed to cards skimmed overseas and used in Australia. Card fraud on Australian cards totalled more than $321 million.

Tips for shoppers and merchants to avoid being scammed

• Ensure when using an ATM you look for any suspicious device attached to the card entry point of the machine and always cover your hand when entering your PIN number.

• Examine your monthly statement for suspicious transactions, especially transactions which may appear for $1 or $2 as this indicates your card has been compromised and the criminals are testing the account is still active. If you see this, contact your bank immediately.

• Any suspicious people hanging around an ATM should be reported to police immediately.

• Merchants should be wary of groups of 2 to 4 people seeking to buy multiple high end products and using multiple credit cards to pay for the goods.

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