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  1. Wealth
August 31, 2009

Attacking the ATM thieves

By Spear's

Prior to the 9/11 atrocity there was a reluctance in many UK police forces to investigate crime where there were “community sensitivities” at stake.

The Metropolitan Police’s Counter-Terrorist Command, which is arguably the best-funded branch of the capital’s Criminal investigation Division, is turning its attention to what has hitherto been categorised as low level street crime because of concerns about the huge sums generated by young men of Muslim appearance who may be generating cash for terrorists.

Prior to the 9/11 atrocity there was a reluctance in many UK police forces to investigate crime where there were “community sensitivities” at stake. For instance, the Watford motor insurance scams led investigators to just one street in the town where there had been more than a hundred motor claims from individuals, from separate addresses, all named Khan.

When altered by insurance companies, the police declined to treat the matter as criminal, but after the events of 2001 such incidents, indicating organised large-scale fraud, have been re-evaluated as potential fund-raising for both home-grown and foreign terrorist groups.

ATM scams are now a daily occurrence and usually involve either the notorious “Lebanese loop” or distraction. To avoid being caught, do not speak to anyone while using or approaching an ATM. Do not be distracted is someone points out that a banknote is on the ground close by. If you card id gobbled up by an ATM, report the loss immediately to your bank. Always cover your hand movements when entering your PIN.

The Lebanese loop is a piece of thin plastic inserted into the ATM’s slop which will cause the machine to malfunction and decline to return your card. Once you have departed the scene, the scam artists use a pair of tweezers to extract your card and, having already noted your PIN. They will go on a spending spree.

Once your ATM daily limit has been cleaned out, the thieves will start making internet purchases which are delivered the following day to blocks of flats where less-skilled gang members and co-optees receive the goods.

If you have just used an ATM successfully, the scam artists may invite you to return to the machine by falsely claiming that you have left some money in the tray. Alternatively, while you are using the machine a skilled “distraction”, perhaps involving dropped coins or notes, will divert your attention for a moment while the transaction is cancelled and your card removed from the slot.

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These characters perform impressively and are undeterred by CCTV coverage. They work in pairs, sometimes with a third acting as look-out, and are dressed as smart young students. Typically they are of Asian or Pakistani appearance and speak poor English. Quite often they will pretend to have just lost their own card in the same machine and seek your advice.
The solution is to photograph them with your cellphone and certainly call the police, for whom only the minimum explanation is required as this crime occurs hundreds of times a day.

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