Tesco Cash machine
Image by Karen Bryan on Flickr

As West Midlands Police appealed for information this morning regarding ATM scams at Merry Hill Shopping centre, a shopper fell victim to a similar crime at Morrisons supermarket.

Julie Heafield contacted us this morning to tell us of a problem she had at the Natwest ATM outside the Rubery store, during which £700 was taken from her bank account.

At around 8.45am today she attempted to withdraw some cash but it seemed that her card was going to be retained by the machine. She told us that, as she was checking the machine for a phone number to call, a man with a ‘foreign accent’ approached her and advised her to re-enter her PIN number. Thinking that he was just being helpful, she entered her PIN again twice. The machine then retained her card and displayed ‘Out of order’

Julie thought nothing of it at the time and spoke to customer services in store who advised her to phone her bank. She soon after realised what had happened but, unfortunately, £700 had already been taken from her account. She reported the incident to West Midlands Police.

Julie said: “Just feel so stupid at falling for it, on my own doorstep too. I just want to make sure everyone is extra vigilant as these guys obviously have no shame and are quite blatant about it all.”

In the Merry Hill scams a device called a Lebanese Loop has been used. A strip or sleeve of metal or plastic is inserted into the ATM’s card slot. When the victim inserts their ATM card, the loop is long enough for the card to be fully drawn into the machine and read.

When the ATM tries to eject the card, a ‘lip’ at the end of the loop prevents the card from being ejected, and the machine draws the card back in, leaving the victim to believe that their card has been retained.

PC Phil Upton from the Merry Hill neighbourhood policing team said: “In a typical scam, the perpetrator will obtain the victim’s PIN either by watching them enter it the first time or by approaching the victim under the pretence of offering help and suggesting they re-enter their PIN.

“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.

“We are urging ATM users to take extra care when withdrawing cash by shielding the keypad while they enter their PIN and to be aware of anyone acting suspiciously around them.”

Sgt Karl Pierpoint of Longbridge police pointed out that this kind of incident is rare in the Longbridge ward but that people should be vigilant when using ATMs, reporting any problems or suspicions by calling 101

Some safety advice on using cash machines from West Midlands Police

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