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Fraudsters widen card-skimming operations in Europe

Warwick Ashford

Criminals using card-skimming devices are targeting transport and parking ticket machines in Europe as well as automated teller machines (ATMs) at banks, a report has revealed.

The research from the European ATM Security Team (East) said five European countries have reported an increase in criminals attaching card-skimmers to public transport ticket machines to steal bank card data.

Two countries reported an increase in the number of card-skimmers used on parking ticket machines, while pay-at-pump petrol stations have been targeted in six countries.

Data stolen by the skimming devices is used to clone cards and commit fraud.

Skimming is most common at ATMs and, according to East, ATM skimming was reported in all but one of the 21 Single Euro Payments Area (Sepa).

While the latest report did not identify which countries were involved, France, Germany, Russia and the UK were among those that supplied data for the report, according to the BBC.

According to the UK Cards Association, fraud losses totalled £185m in the first six months of last year, but British Transport police have denied that targeting rail ticket machines is a major problem in the UK.

The data is typically sold for use in the US, which has not yet adopted the chip and PIN security used in many European countries.

Cash machines in the US still read data from the magnetic stripe on the back of a card.

Buyers of the stolen card data can then use cloned cards to withdraw funds from victims’ accounts from cash machines in the US, according to security writer Brian Krebbs.

"The latest report from East continues to emphasise that most card fraud, stemming from skimming incidents in Europe, is in fact perpetrated outside of Europe," he wrote in a blog post.


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