Calling it a “lowly thing to do,” police unveiled a ring of ATM fraud which they say has taken place at eight GTA hospitals.
The devices were uncovered over a period of several months, beginning last November when police first discovered the scam.
Police say the devices are two-fold, in that they have both a card reader to steal magnetic-strip information, along with a pinhole camera to record your ATM code.
Perhaps most frightening, the installation of the devices takes only mere seconds.
“Not really complicated, you have to walk up and place the device right over-top of the card reader,” said Toronto police detective Ian Nichol.
The machines were found at Sick Kids Hospital, Scarborough General, North York General, Oakville Trafalgar Memorial, Lakeridge Health Bowmanville, Southlake Health Centre in Newmarket, Toronto East and Toronto West.
The machines are generally only the ATM devices for several hours.
“They are limited by the size of the video card that’s inside, in terms of their ability to record video, and they’re also limited by their battery power,” Nichol said.
The result of having your card copied and pin stolen is one that nobody wants to deal with.
“It is quite disconcerting when you open up your bank statement and find out you have no money when you thought you had some,” Nichol said.
Police currently have no suspects but officers are reviewing hospital security tapes to attempt to identify anyone involved.
Police are currently working with hospital officials to educate them on identifying fraudulent devices.
Police are also reminding the public that these sort of devices are not limited to hospitals.
“You’ll find these types of machines in variety stores, in restaurants and bars, they’re throughout the city,” Nichol said.
The best way to protect yourself is to use your hand to cover up your code completely, according to police.
Other tips include being aware of your surroundings when using debit or credit cards, not sharing your password with anyone and calling the ATM provider if you see a device that appears to have been tampered with.
You can also get in the habit of using the same ATM machine for your transactions, that way you will be more likely to be able to tell if it has been tampered with.
It is also advisable to use ATM machines inside a bank as they are more difficult to tamper with.
If you do visit an unfamiliar ATM machine, examine it carefully for devices which have been glued or taped to the machine.
If your card is confiscated do not accept the help of nearby strangers and do not use ATM machines where people are lingering.
Finally, do not use ATM machines which have extra signage posted.