ATM Scammers Reportedly Making Rounds In Pacific Islands

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Fiji tourists targeted, Cook Islands police warn public to be wary

By Phillipa Webb

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Oct. 18, 2015) – ATM scammers are travelling through the Pacific and local police are warning people to be careful when using local cash machines.

Police told CI News they had received a report from the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre in Samoa that an attempt has been made to secretly record the pin codes of people using ATM machines in a popular tourist resort in Fiji.

It was suspected that criminals maybe travelling the Pacific for this purpose, they said.

The scammers attach a skimming device over the original slot on the ATM machine where the keypad is.

On this device is a pinhole camera pointing to the keypad where pin codes are entered.

When people using the machine enter their pin codes on the keypad, it is recorded on the camera and later retrieved by the criminals, who are then able to replicate the bank cards and extract money from bank accounts by using the pin codes.

Last year four people were arrested in Auckland for offences relating to these skimming devices and for forgery.

Anyone who finds anything unusual on an ATM machine should report it to the bank responsible for those machines or to the Cook Islands Police Service.

Police Commissioner Maara Tetava said unfortunately, criminals continue to explore ways to steal from people.

"As we now live in a global economy and being a very attractive tourist destination, it will only be a matter of time before this kind of offending comes to our place."

Tetava said police were working closely with their regional and international partners to ensure Cook Islands monitoring systems were effective in detecting and apprehending people involved in these and other trans-national crime activities.

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