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Monday Dec 04 2017

Hundreds of Pakistanis lose millions in major ATM skimming fraud


KARACHI: Hundreds of citizens in Pakistan have lost millions of rupees over a couple of weeks after they fell prey to an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) skimming fraud, Geo News reported Monday.

The schemers withdrew money in China, while the transactions were made in Karachi and Islamabad through the fraudulent scheme.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) says skimmers withdrew money using data from 579 ATM cards. They accessed the accounts by placing skimming devices in different ATMs.

Account holders only came to know of the theft after being informed by their respective banks, the agency said.

A spokesperson for Habib Bank Pvt Ltd said that the bank's has confirmed skimming devices installed on four of its ATMs; three in Islamabad and one in Karachi. 

The FIA has started probing into the matter under the Cyber Crime Act.

The matter has also been raised on a diplomatic level with China. FIA officials say they have written letters to Chinese diplomats apprising them of the details of the fraud.

What is ATM skimming?

Chinese individuals arrested in Karachi in the past for ATM skimming. — Geo News

ATM skimming is can be regarded as identity theft for debit cards. Fraudsters employ different techniques to record your PIN code for accessing the hard-earned money in your account.

In some instances, the schemers stick a fake card-reader on the ATM, while in others they place a fake keypad on the machine to get your PIN code.

Another technique employed in this crime is the use of a hidden camera, which records your PIN code and conveys it to fraudsters.

A few ATM skimmers also change the entire display of the ATM.

How to safeguard yourself against such schemes?

To avoid the loss of your hard-earned cash, it is necessary for you to check there is no hidden on unusual device attached to the ATM you are using.

Your PIN code is vital for the schemers and they are unable to withdraw cash with it. One must punch his PIN code in a way that avoids detection by a hidden camera placed somewhere on and around the machine.

Do not withdraw money if you sense anything unusual at an ATM and immediately inform concerned bank officials.

Karachi's Clifton worst hit by fraud

The highest number of incidents of ATM skimming took place at a major shopping mall in Karachi's Clifton area.

In order to make more and more from their scheme, the fraudsters placed a skimming device on one ATM and made others dysfunctional.

This led all potential victims of the fraud to the ATM with the skimming device.

Chinese skimmers arrested in past

In the past, three Chinese skimmers have been arrested in Karachi for manipulating the ATMs.

On March 20, two Chinese nationals were nabbed while removing a skimming device from an ATM in Clifton. They had skimmed money from a cash machine near Teen Talwar area.

Another Chinese man was held in June 2016 in connection with ATM skimming.