ATM Scam: How Criminals Steal Your Card & PIN.

Seven million rand. That’s how much criminals are costing South African consumers annually. One of the hot spots is Daveyton in the East Rand, where misguided youngsters are turning their talents into crime. Read on to see how they do it and how to avoid an ATM scam altogether. For more information on card skimming & PIN theft criminals use, click on the link.

How An ATM Scam Works.

This is called card-card, a name given to the particular groups of people who steal your card and pin. At the end of every month right after payday, Daveyton Mall is expecting to do brisk business, and everyone will be doing their monthly shopping or paying their bills.

Naturally the ATM’s are always packed at the end of the month as many people are trying to draw cash. It’s within this chaos that card skimmers take advantage of you and steal your hard earned money.

They don’t care what race, age or gender you are. The fact that you’re human and has a bank account with money in it makes you a target. But how do they select you as a target? Quite simple actually, they’re looking for targets who look distracted. That then means, looking at your cell phone, being in deep thought or just having your hands too full makes you a “simple and easy to steal from” target. By reading your body language and watching you intently, they can determine what type of target you are.

Since they work in teams of 2 or 3 individuals, it makes it easier for them to steal your information and your card, right under your nose. Because of the amount of money made by skimming cards, no one feels guilty for stealing. Some of these criminals make up to R15 000 a day, and that’s on a bad day for them!

On paydays like the 20th, 25th, 3rd or 4th of every month, they’re at the ATM’s selecting they’re targets and stealing from them. These skimmers plan the day before and execute this plan the next day. Anything from 4am – 9am they’ll be stealing from unsuspected victims. Round two takes place from 3pm – 6pm that same day. The money is always divided amongst the group and planning always takes place for the next day that night.

This is how they’ll steal your hard earned money from you:

Because the victim looks distracted, the target is selected.

atm scam

The criminal now offers their help but is now, in fact, stealing the victim’s card and PIN.

ATM scam

The first thing the criminal does? He goes to the ATM and inserts his card as if he’s drawing money. By using the ATM’s mirrors, he can now look for potential victims behind him.

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Once he spots a potential victim, he will pretend to draw cash and takes his card. But, as he as he goes, he leaves his slip at the ATM.

atm scam

Right before he leaves the ATM, he activates the card-less services option on the ATM, and this locks up the card reader. By doing this, the victim can’t insert their card.

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Once the victim gets to the ATM, they’re asked for a PIN which they then enter, not realising that it’s the cardless services of the ATM. The criminal, however, watches and remembers the PIN you enter.

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Once the victim tries to insert their card into the ATM, the criminal comes to claim the slip he “forgot”.

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Because the ATM is in card-less mode, the victims’ card can’t go into the card slot.

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This is where the criminal offers to “help” the victim by telling them to press C for cancel. Once the card-less mode has been cancelled, the ATM goes back to normal.

atm scam

After this, the criminal will try to distract the victim by telling them to lift their card in a certain way to insert it better into the ATM.

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They’ll offer more help by doing it for you and swap your card with a deactivated one.

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Now that your card is stolen, and they have your PIN, they can go to any ATM and withdraw money till they reach your daily limit or till you stop the card.

atm scam

How to be safe at an ATM.

  1. Never ask anyone to assist you at the ATM.
  2. When the screen layout is not familiar to you, do NOT insert your card.
  3. Should the screen, keypad or card slot look like it’s been tampered, do NOT use the ATM.
  4. When you notice someone standing close to you at the ATM, cancel your transaction immediately and draw money from another ATM.
  5. Should you be disturbed while drawing money at the ATM, cancel the transaction right away and report it to your bank by using your bank’s Stop Card number.
  6. Change your PIN or stop the card after any form of interruption at an ATM.


Further tips.

It’s always a good idea have someone you trust to go with you to the ATM to be your eyes and ears while you’re drawing money. Let them stand with their back to yours as to discourage anyone from coming too close.

Also, should you get to any ATM and the previous person’s slip are still in the machine. Remove it immediately without looking at the slip and throw it into the bin provided at the ATM.

Last but not least, the worst mistake you can make is not covering you PIN when entering it at the ATM. Your body isn’t enough to cover your PIN, so use your wallet or another hand to cover your PIN more when entering it.

Read more on how to apply for a loan without getting scammed in South Africa to avoid the classic “tricks” scammers use.



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