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Police zero-in on ATM fraud

Police spokesperson Thato Ramarikhoane‘Mantoetse Maama

MASERU — Police have joined the campaign against ATM fraud and warned people to be vigilant in using their credit and debit cards following recent reports of card skimming.

Skimming is said by the police to be the new method through which fraudsters get access to personal banking details of people.

In this kind of crime, people’s banking details are captured by duplicating the magnetic strip of the card in question after which the unsuspecting person’s money accessed, says Police spokesperson Thato Ramarikhoane.

Ramarikhoane said people should not use Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) if they suspect that they have been tampered with.

“If you notice that an ATM has been tempered with you should not use it. Most targeted machines are those that are located far from the banks. Don’t conduct any transactions when there is something suspicious otherwise you will end up losing your money,” Ramarikhoane said.

The criminals normally tamper with the machines during the weekends after the banks have been closed.

They make sure that even when the victim realises that their account has been accessed they are not able to get assistance from the bank staff and that by the time one gets assistance they would have taken most of the money from the account.

“One business man had used his debit card at a local hardware to purchase some building material then after an hour noticed that his card was used in some malls in South Africa (SA). Some criminals use local shops to purchase groceries and clothes,” he said.

There was a case where criminals used their card at one pizza shop. The card they were using was deducting money from the shop’s account instead of billing their card to pay for the food they bought.

According to Ramarikhoane there are also instances where the fraudsters offer help where none is needed and in the process skim people’s banking details.

“The criminals make themselves available to offer help if a machine gives you problem and during that time they steal information from the card,” he said.

He said people should be alert when approaching an ATM and look out for any suspicious-looking devices before inserting a card, and to also desist from receiving assistance from strangers.

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