Financial Fraud
‘My salary vanished in a matter of seconds’, says Coimbatore ATM fraud victim.
Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

A new case of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fraud has come to light in Coimbatore. Around 15 people in Coimbatore have lost money from their accounts in the past week due to an ATM fraud. It is being suspected that the miscreants swindled money using devices called ‘Skimmers’ attached to the ATM machines.

“I got this month’s salary only on June 5th evening and the next day the money disappeared,” said a victim, who lost Rs.50,000 within minutes in the wee hours of June 6.

He had called the ICICI bank customer care immediately and blocked his bank account and debit card.

“I went to my bank to file a complaint regarding this that morning. There were two others there with a similar complaint, waiting to file a complaint. Talking to them, I realised that all of us had used that ATM a few days back. Together they had lost around Rs.120000. We then told this to the bank manager, who immediately asked her team to rush to the ATM and check. They then closed the ATM for transactions,” he added.  

All the victims had withdrawn money from an ICICI bank ATM in Varadarajapuram near Singanallur.

They then went to the Cyber Cell police in Coimbatore to lodge a complaint. “There we saw ten others waiting to file a complaint on the same issue,” he said.

The cyber cell police have filed a case for ATM theft under sections 120b, 468, 471, and 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and under section 66 of the Information Technology Act.

“The money has been withdrawn in Bengaluru. We suspect that the culprits have used a skimmer to steal card information. Since investigation is underway, this is all I can say,” said N.Mallika, Inspector in Cyber Crime division, Coimbatore.

“Around six of the affected people have got their refunds from their banks. I am waiting for mine,” the victim said.

What is skimming?

Thieves place skimming device on the ATM Counter, by either replacing the original card reader or placing it on top of the reader. The skimming device copies the magnetic strip details from your card. But the fraudsters still need your ATM PIN code.

Fraudsters use hidden cameras to steal the secret code or they “shoulder surf” - someone who stands behind and watches you key in your PIN. Once fraudsters have your card details, they make a clone of the card and proceed to empty your bank account.

So what can you do to prevent becoming a victim of skimming?

If the card reader wiggles or has been attached with glue, don’t use the machine.

Check for signs of tampering – difference in colour, or material may indicate a skimming device.  

Chronicle Lives warns of a keypad that “feels spongy or unusually spot”. This suggests that the fraudster may have replaced the original keypad with a fake which helps register and steal the user’s PIN code.

Even if there’s no one standing behind you, always use your hand to cover the keypad while you type your ATM PIN, you never know who or what is watching.

Watch this video to learn about skimming: