Cash-dispenser giant NCR has warned that bank customers using ATM machines could be in danger of identity theft. There has been an increase recently in reports of ATM fraud using fake cash-machine cards, particularly in the Americas. With fraud on the rise in the region, the company warns that Hong Kong could soon be hit by similar high-technology thefts. An e-mail, which has been widely circulated in the past week, shows how a fake card slot containing a scanner can be attached to an ATM machine to record data from a credit or debit card's magnetic stripe. A camera attached to the side of the ATM and disguised as an information box is positioned to record information on the screen and the keypad. A wireless transmitter inside the box then sends the video to the scammers, who can capture the information on a computer in a nearby car or building. The thieves can be up to 200 metres away. A spokesperson for NCR, the ATM giant which produced the cash machine shown in the e-mail, said the scam had been reported several times in South America. The machine shown in the document belonged to Brazilian bank Bradesco. Police in Canada, the United States and Malaysia have reported cases of fraud using similar hi-tech methods. 'This type of crime has and can be applied to any ATM,' the spokesperson said. However, she said, similar scams had not been reported in Asia. 'The particular device mentioned in this document has not been seen outside South America. However, card skimming, as this type of fraud is termed, is something that has occurred in a number of countries,' she said. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has been notified of 36 cases of ATM fraud this year, in which about $2 million was stolen from ATM machines using fake cards. The Bank of Taiwan was recently forced to close all of its ATM machines after a spate of unauthorised transactions. In October, authorities in Taiwan said 70 people had been robbed in this way, losing more than NT$10 million (about HK2.28 million). The NCR spokesperson said the gradual introduction of smart cards would help eliminate the problem. In the meantime, she advised caution. 'Customers are advised to be on the look-out for unusual devices attached to ATMs and also to exercise care when entering PIN numbers.' Many local banks now have notices on their ATM machines warning customers to be on the alert for suspicious devices and so-called 'shoulder surfers'. A more unusual means to get at bank-card data was highlighted last week when an Eastern European man was indicted for fraud in the United States, where privately owned cash machines are commonplace. Iljmija Frljuckic bought 55 genuine ATM machines and sited them in California, Florida and New York. He used the machines to gather data on 21,000 bank accounts from 1,400 banks, and stole more than US$3.5 million.