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Card skimming tech seized in Auckland

27 Jan 2020

Last week, New Zealand Customs officers arrested two people in downtown Auckland for importing card skimming equipment.

The two, aged 30 and 35, arrived from Romania into New Zealand in November last year.

It is alleged that after their arrival to the country, both defendants imported two packages containing card skimming devices for the purpose of fraudulently withdrawing money from ATMs.

Customs officers, with assistance from the NZ Police, executed a search warrant at a downtown city address last night and located evidence implicating both in the importation, manufacture and possession of card skimming equipment.  

During the arrests, Customs officers recovered:

  • Automated teller machine (ATM) skimming devices being manufactured for installation;
  • Blank cards and a card writer machine;
  • Tools and equipment for manufacturing skimming devices;
  • Computers and electronic devices.

The two Romanian nationals were charged Under Section 391 (1) of the Customs and Excise Act 2018 with knowingly concerned in the importation of goods that are for a dishonest purpose into New Zealand.

If found guilty, the pair could each face up to three years in prison and deportation.

The pair were scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on Friday.

Further fraud charges may be laid under the Crimes Act says Operations Manager Investigations Stephen Waugh.

“Customs officers are always looking out for importation and use of devices that compromise ATMs for ‘skimming’.  It’s a worldwide issue and New Zealand regularly encounters people travelling to our country wanting to undertake this type of criminal activity,” says Waugh. 

Skimming typically involves inserting a device that reads data contained on plastic cards’ magnetic strips. 

These devices are placed in ATM card readers which obtain credit card details.

In order to get a card’s PIN number, criminals attach pinhole cameras around the ATM, which are carefully concealed.

Stolen data is later cloned onto blank cards and these are used by offenders at ATMs withdraw money by fraudulent means.

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent having card details stolen in this manner is to be vigilant and cautious in your use of ATMs.

Users can look for small cameras that are not part of the machine itself and pull firmly on any protruding parts around the card entry point.

A quick online search can provide a wealth of information and advice on how to avoid skimming and many other technology-based scams.

If you are suspicious for any reason, use a different ATM and contact the company that owns the ATM (the bank, union, etc.).

If you feel that you may be a victim of this or any other fraudulent activity, contact your card issuer as soon as possible.

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