ATM card users, beware.
An international syndicate that allegedly makes “clone” automated teller machine (ATM) cards is reportedly operating in Cebu, prompting the Provincial Board (PB) to ask the banks to tighten their security.
The copied ATM cards are reportedly used to make unauthorized and illegal withdrawals from accounts of bank depositors.
“This should serve as a warning to all our banks and ATM users,” said PB Member Jude Sybico, the author of the resolution passed by the PB.
In the resolution, the PB “enjoined banks operating in Cebu to institute and implement security measures against ATM ‘card skimming scam’ carried out by international organized crime networks.”
Sybico described those behind the crime as “criminals who combine the organizational discipline of an international syndicate and Silicon Valley high-tech wizardry who skimmed millions of pesos out of our local ATM.”
Sybico said the cards are copied using two items that are stealthily installed in ATM booths--the skimmers or ATM magnetic data strip readers and a micro-camera.
Skimmers are installed in ATM slots to read and store data copied from ATM cards inserted into the machine, while the micro-camera placed above the number keys records the client’s key strokes.
This is how the card’s personal identification number is determined, said Sybico.
The syndicate then makes “clone” ATM cards based on the data retrieved from skimmers, using the PIN taken from micro-camera recordings.
The resolution was co-authored by PB Members Miguel Magpale and Carmen Durano-Meca, also the president of Philippine Councilors
League (PCL) Cebu.
Mary Christine Chua, president of the Cebu Bankers Club, said she received reports on Oct. 6, 2012 that one of the ATM booths in a mall was found to have a skimming device.
It was removed at once and the bankers club warned its 40 member banks to be “wary and mindful of any unusual item or objects in their ATM.”
Last Tuesday, Sr. Supt. Louie Oppus of the PNP headquarters in Camp Crame provided the Cebu Bankers Club with photos of suspected skimmers who were seen in Makati City.
Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 Deputy Chief Delfin Bontuyan said his team is assisting an American national who lost his cash deposits last week.
Sybico said that in Manila last month, the syndicate victimized the employees of an office.
All the employees withdrew their salary from the same ATM near their office, which apparently had a “skimmer” stealthily installed in the slot.
When they tried to withdraw their salary the next payday, they found out that it had been withdrawn.
In 1999, the defunct Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force (PAOCTF) received a complaint from a World Shooting Competition participant in Cebu who was billed by a credit card company for fraudulent purchases worth $24,000.
A PAOCTF agent learned that the victim’s card was cloned using a skimmer when it was used in a department store or a restaurant.
The agent also confirmed that time that the syndicate secretly gave waiters and salespersons skimmers, and they were paid a “huge” amount for each credit card data saved in the card reader.
Apparently, Sybico said, the syndicate shifted their cloning activities from credit cards to ATM cards because it can be done more discreetly and it’s more difficult to detect.