LAW & CRIME

Hong Kong police go on search for suspect in ATM fraud case

Frontline officers told to look for middle-aged man seen in CCTV footage setting up devices including false card slot fixed with a card reader

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2016, 10:19pm

Police are looking for a middle-aged Chinese man after suspicious devices were found at an automatic teller machine at a Bank of China branch in To Kwa Wan earlier this week.

The suspected case of ATM fraud prompted police to ask frontline officers to look out for the 1.7 metre tall man and to pay more attention to areas near cash machines across Hong Kong.

The case first came to light when a customer tried to withdraw money before 10pm on Monday from a Bank of China cash machine on Ma Tau Kok Road.

“The client noticed a suspicious device at the ATM card insertion slot, removed it and then alerted the bank,” a police source said.

Hong Kong police hunt thieves who stole cash from forgetful ATM customers

The device was later identified to be a false card slot fixed with a card reader.

“A pinhole camera was later found concealed near the keypad cover of the same machine,” he said.

Crime squad officers from the Kowloon City police station then launched an investigation after receiving a report from the bank on Tuesday.

“CCTV footage showed a Chinese man setting up the devices at the cash machine after 9pm on Monday,” the source said.

He added that the man was believed to be between the age of 40 and 50, was of medium build and about 1.7 metres tall.

Police are treating the case as one of “accessing computer with criminal or dishonest intent”.

No one has been arrested yet.

It is understood that officers are working with the bank to find out how many clients had used the cash machine before the devices were found.

“So far, no losses have been reported,” the source said.

Yesterday, the Bank of China said that it was not appropriate to reveal details as police were still handling the case. “Up to now, we have not received any inquiries from customers in connection with the related problem,” the bank said in a statement.

But it reminded customers to be vigilant while using cash machines.

Another police source said that previous ATM scams involved false card slots equipped with a card reader, a pinhole camera, and a wireless transmitter. When customers insert their cards into these fake slots, their data is copied by the card reader.

“The pinhole camera focused on the ATM keypad is usually connected to a wireless transmitter, which sends images to nearby scammers who capture the PINs on a remote receiver,” he said.

The fraudsters then use the stolen information to make counterfeit cards to withdraw money from these accounts.

Police advised the public to guard against ATM fraud by being alert to people “loitering suspiciously in the vicinity” and “developing the habit of covering up the keypad while entering their PIN so that no camera can capture their typing”.

“If you notice any uncommon objects installed at an ATM, stop using it immediately and report it to the police,” police said on its website.