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ATM Fraud Warning - XRAY Film Card Slot Trap

PowerPower Presentation shows how thieves can use strips of XRAY film to trap a card in an ATM and then trick the card owner into revealing the card's PIN (Full commentary below).


Example:(Submitted, December 2006)

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ATM Theft Slide 1

This image is just one in a series presented as a PowerPoint slide show.

Microsoft PowerPoint, the MS PowerPoint Viewer or another compatible program needs to be installed on your computer.

Download PowerPoint Presentation (558kb)

A warning about ATM theft formatted as a Microsoft PowerPoint slide show is currently circulating via email and online. The type of ATM theft shown in the presentation is real. The presentation features a series of images that depict how a "trap" can be placed into an ATM card slot in the form of a thin strip of XRAY film. Text in the presentation explains:
The trap is made up of XRAY film, which is the preferred material by thieves; Simply because of the black color which is similar in appearance to the slot on the card reader.

The trap is then inserted into the ATM slot. Care is taken not to insert the entire film into the slot, the ends are folded and contain glue strips for better adhesion to the inner and outer surface of the slots.

Once the ends are firmly glued and fixed to the slot, it is almost impossible to detect by unsuspecting clients.

After the trap is placed, the next card that is inserted into the ATM will be held inside the slot. The card owner will think the card has been confiscated. The thief responsible for the trap then attempts to trick the victim into revealing his or her PIN by pretending to offer help to recover the card:
The good Samaritan convinces the "chump" He can recover the card,if he presses his PIN at the same time the Samaritan press "cancel" and "enter".

When this "help" proves to be fruitless, the victim finally leaves without his or her card. The thief will appear to leave as well. However, the thief will quickly return to the ATM and use the XRAY film to retrieve the card. Since he already has the victim's PIN, he can then use the card to steal funds from the victim's account.

The theft technique described in the presentation is one of the most common types of ATM fraud and is often referred to as a "Lebanese loop". As well as XRAY film, a range of other materials can be used. According to
The term "Lebanese loop" is applied to any number of similar devices that are used to perpetrate ATM fraud by retaining the user's card. In their simplest form, Lebanese loops consist of a strip or sleeve of metal or plastic (even something as simple as a strip of video cassette tape) that is inserted into the ATM's card slot. When the victim inserts their ATM card, the loop prevents the card being drawn into the machine, fooling the user into believing the machine has malfunctioned or retained their card. In a typical scam, the perpetrator will obtain the victim's PIN either by watching them enter it the first time (shoulder surfing), or by approaching the victim under the pretence of offering help and suggesting they re-enter their PIN (and again, watching them do so). Once the victim has left the ATM, the perpetrator retrieves the loop and the trapped card, and uses it, along with their PIN, to withdraw cash from the victim's account.

In more sophisticated versions of the scam, the criminals may actually mount a small camera near the ATM and remotely record the PIN entered via a nearby laptop computer.

Although the scam described is real, the origin of the images used in the presentation is unclear. The date stamp on the images show that they were taken in 2001, but the presentation contains no information about the location of the crime or if the criminals responsible were apprehended. In fact, it is unclear if the images are surveillance footage of an actual crime or were simply staged to illustrate how such crimes are perpetrated. A link to the slide show is included on the Las Vegas Police Managers and Supervisors Association website, but the site does not explain who created the presentation or where it came from.

Regardless of the origins of the images used, the presentation does serve as a valid warning to ATM users. The presentation includes the following recommendations for those who may encounter such a scenario:
1.-Once your card has been confiscated, observe the ATM slot and the card reader for any signs of tampering. Should you see the film tips glued to the slot, unglue, pull the trap out and recover your card.

2.- Report IMMEDIATELY to the BanK.

ATM users should always take a moment to examine the machine for signs of tampering. Lebanese loops are only one method of perpetrating ATM fraud. Criminals may also install technically sophisticated ATM skimming equipment and hidden cameras on the machine that allows them to capture bank card numbers and PIN's. These numbers can then be used on fake cards to steal the victim's funds.

ATM users should also be wary of people who may seem to be hanging around a machine. If your card does get "confiscated" by the ATM, be very cautious of accepting help from strangers. Never enter your PIN in a situation in which an observer is close enough to see which numbers you press.

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Last updated: 4th December 2006
First published: 4th December 2006

Write-up by Brett M.Christensen