Police warn of new PMB scams

2016-09-09 08:59
ATM scams are becoming more and more popular.

ATM scams are becoming more and more popular. (File)

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Scamsters operating in Pietermaritzburg’s CBD have upped their game using slick — and sometimes bizarre — methods to take people’s money.

With a pattern of cases emerging, city detectives have warned of certain methods they have identified that cunning thieves and persuasive con-artists are using to part unsuspecting residents from their money.

According to acting Pietermartizburg police spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo, thieves insert special cards used for making cellphone payments into ATMs in the city centre.

Before any transaction is done, the thieves remove their cards, leaving the machine in limbo, awaiting further instruction.

The thieves then step away and wait for their first target to use the ATM.

When the victim tries to insert their bank card, the ATM does not acknowledge a new transaction and rejects the card, leaving it stuck halfway in the slot. That is when the scamsters swoop in to offer their “assistance”.

Stating that they have had a similar problem, the scamster suggests that the victim enter their PIN, and takes note of the digits being entered.

A second accomplice then joins the fray, distracting the victim while their card is removed from the ATM.

Khonjelwayo said when the victim finally notices the card is missing, they presume the ATM has swallowed it.

Their bank accounts are then drained from a nearby ATM in a matter of minutes, before the “faulty” machine can be reported to the bank.

Khonjelwayo said criminals were also inserting a thin film into card slots at ATMs.

With the film inserted, the victim finds it difficult to insert their card, and the brazen scamster is once again quick to offer assistance.

It is believed the scamster forces the card through the slot, taking care not to let it go all the way. The machine is unable to process the card as the film is in the way.

When nothing happens on the screen, the victim is persuaded to enter their PIN to retrieve their card. Again, nothing happens.

At this stage, the scamster has already noted the PIN number and urges the victim to report to the bank to seek further assistance. When the victim leaves, the scamster carefully removes the film and the card and withdraws money from the account.

Khonjelwayo urged ATM users not to accept assistance from any person, even security guards.

“Never insert a PIN number if not prompted to do so by the ATM. Always cover the keypad when entering your PIN number,” she warned.

But scamsters are not only targeting people at ATMs.

According to information from the police, customers are being targeted near clothing shops and supermarkets by men and women who claim they have a “contact” at the store or that they personally know the store manager.

It is believed that people carrying purchased items in packets from other stores are mostly targeted.

The scamster says that he or she can get products from the store at a cheaper price. The victim is then asked to go inside the store and choose their desired goods, leaving their belongings with the thieves outside the store.

Within seconds of the victim entering the store, the scamster flees with the victim’s belongings.

Khonjelwayo also warned against picking up money dropped on the sidewalk.

She said the scamsters will drop a plastic packet with money on the floor in front of a targeted victim.

When the pedestrian tries to return the money out of goodwill, the “thankful” scamster offers to share some of the cash as a reward for their honesty.

The victim is lured out of the open, commonly into a side street, where the scamster’s accomplices then approach the victim posing as police officers.

The “officers” demand all the cash in the victim’s possession and return the money in an envelope after a short time.

However, when the envelope is opened, the victim discovers it is filled with pieces of paper.

Khonjelwayo also warned against paying bribes in return for jobs and enlisting the services of so-called “prophets”, who claim they can make you lots of money or eradicate all your problems for a small fee.

Read more on:    pietermaritzbrug

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