Gang 'skimming' credit cards at Dart ticket machines

Tue, Nov 27, 2012, 00:00

A criminal gang has been targeting commuters in Dublin in the run-up to Christmas by installing sophisticated skimming devices capable of capturing credit card details on ticket vending machines at Dart stations.

ATM card “skimming” is one of the most common types of card fraud in Ireland, and as much as 80 per cent of fraudulent credit card transactions are as a result of a card being tampered with in this way.

The Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPS0), which has oversight of the credit and debit card sector in the Republic, said yesterday that banks had been successful in securing ATMs from skimming attacks but criminals were now targeting less secure set-ups.

It said at least one criminal gang was using a new type of skimming device at unattended payment ticket machines at Dart stations to steal debit and credit card details and pin numbers off unsuspecting card holders while they were collecting or paying for tickets.

Typically the criminals attach a small device to the machine and when a user inserts their card its magnetic strip is copied. A small camera attached to the top of the machine records any pin number which is input. The card is then cloned and used in fraudulent transactions.

An increase in such activity at Booterstown and Dún Laoghaire Dart stations over the last week has prompted an investigation by the Garda Bureau of Fraud Investigation, IPSO confirmed.

It said “excellent CCTV footage” from the stations suggested that a single gang was behind the scam, but it predicted that skimming would “most likely escalate in the run-up to Christmas” as large numbers of people use public transport to come into towns and cities.

It said it was working with machine operators and card issuers to make sure that any accounts attached to payment cards which may have been compromised would be monitored for fraudulent spending.

It has also urged cardholders who believe they may have been compromised to check their accounts on a regular basis and report any unauthorised cash withdrawals or sales to the card-issuing bank and gardaí.

It warned commuters using ticket vending machines “to simply cover the pin pad when keying in their pin” to prevent criminals seeing numbers being entered “either through shoulder surfing or when micro-cameras are used”.