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Cashpoint Fraud: Scams Targeting the Elderly

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 1 Apr 2013 | comments*Discuss
Cashpoint Fraud: Scams Targeting The Elderly

The Financial Ombudsman Service has recently issued a warning to older people to look out for attempts to con them out of their money at cash points. The ombudsman has reported a disturbing trend in cash point fraud with thousands of complaints from pensioners who have fallen victim to this type of fraud.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) said in a recent newsletter that it had been asked to investigate around 3,000 complaints just in the last year from people who have been targeted for cash point scams.

A spokesman told the Financial Times that the cases it had been asked to look into tended to involve detailed investigation, often involving an analysis of bank cash-machine audit trails, in addition to collecting and assessing information from the person making the complaint.

What Can Happen in a Cash Point Scam

One 80 year old woman went to a cash point to withdraw £50 from her local branch and was distracted mid-transaction by a man that she described as being ‘smartly dressed’. He stopped and advised her that there was a fault with the cash machine she was using and told her that it had previously ‘swallowed’ his card.

She left the machine and went into the bank to speak to a member of staff. She said she was told by the adviser that her card would be fine. Later on, the woman was horrified to discover that £500 had been taken out of her bank account just 15 minutes after she had been into the bank to report the ‘problem’. The bank initially refused to give her any compensation, because they said the loss of money had been a result of her own negligence, but following an FOS investigation it was found that the cashier should have cancelled the woman’s card as soon as the she complained. The FOS ordered the bank to pay her back the money that had been stolen.

The Classic Cash Point Distraction Scams

Although the elderly are not the only people targeted by cash point scams, in some cases, older people tend to be more trusting and can appear easy targets for unscrupulous fraudsters.

Another well known distraction tactic that’s often used to steal money from pensioners relies on sleight of hand to give scam artists an opportunity to get their card details.

Someone will be using the cash point when they become aware of people keying numbers into their mobile phones – they will be trying to copy finger movements as the user is entering their PIN number. The way the scam works is that because there are several people all attempting to work out the PIN number, they can manage to work it out between them, and then one of them will tap the user on the shoulder and tell them they’ve dropped some money. Lo and behold, there’s a £10 note on the ground, so the target bends down to pick it up, leaving their card in the machine, which is then ejected and skimmed at lightning speed, before the target stands up.

The target is left confused by the incident but doesn’t suspect anything until the cash starts to disappear from their bank account. The scammers have managed to get hold of their PIN as well as their card details, and have carte blanche to scam as much money as they can from their victim’s bank account until they notice the money going missing and report it – by which time they are long gone.

The moral of the story is that if you notice anyone standing too close to you (or an elderly person) at a cash point; make sure that you or they report it to the bank, so that they can cancel the card – just to be on the safe side.

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Sparks - 1-Apr-13 @ 11:47 AM
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