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LBW Alert: Watch Out for Fake ATM Machines

CashTo the ever-growing list of clever ways that crooks are trying to rip you off, add this one: the fake ATM machine.

Consumerist reported last week that in Beijing, China, thieves bought a normal ATM machine and somehow "installed it on a busy Beijing street." They then used information taken from the users/victims' debit cards to steal all the money from their accounts.

And don't think you are safe just because you are living in the U.S., and not in China. In a follow-up post yesterday, a Consumerist reader named Paul told his story of almost being burned by a fake ATM machine at an outdoor city festival in his hometown in the U.S. Paul says that someone created a fake ATM by somehow taking an arcade cabinet and adding "a TV screen and number pad lifted from another ATM machine and a real (definitely not fake) card reader installed very well next to the screen."

The fake ATM was set up outside a jam-packed bank near the festival and captured the overflow customers. Paul discussed the matter with the FBI, who told him that the fake ATM actually had a real cash dispenser and actually gave out real cash, as part of the following scam:

Build and deploy a fake ATM, let it dispense real money not to tip off anyone, sit in a van down the street with a laptop and have the fake ATM feed credit card numbers and PIN’s to it over WIFI. Once the money runs out, just dip out.

Turns out that the machine probably had about $2000 in it, not bad for the potential money that can be stolen later and the fake ATM couldn’t have cost more than $1000 to make. The bank logo, the ATM menus can easily be copied from image files off the internet and setup to look real.

The FBI also told Paul that fake ATMs are popping up more and more often lately, even in malls and gas stations.

Posted by Bruce Carton on June 30, 2010 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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