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Local banks across the island have been put on alert by the Major Crimes Unit of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) following an increase in credit card scams.
This was disclosed by Acting Corporal Calious Dantes on Police Insight on MBC Television.
The police official said that criminals are now in possession of devices that can read the magnetic strip of any card as well as small cameras which they can affix to ATM or similar machines.
Commonly referred to as skimmers, these are essentially malicious card readers that grab data from real payment terminals so that they can harvest data from every person that swipes their cards.
The thief has to return to the compromised machine to pick up the file containing all the stolen data, but with that information in hand that person can create cloned cards or just break into bank accounts to steal money.
Dantes said the typical ATM skimmer is a device smaller than a deck of cards that fits over the existing card reader. Most of the time, the scammers will also place a hidden camera somewhere in the vicinity with a view of the number pad in order to record personal-identification-numbers or PINS.
The camera may be in the card reader, mounted at the top of the ATM, or even just to the side inside a plastic case holding brochures. Some criminals may install a fake PIN pad over the actual keyboard to capture the PIN directly, bypassing the need for a camera.
The scammers can then transfer the information to another card using a laptop computer and a card reader to steal personal information.
There were some 400 cases of fraud and forgeries reported in 2015, with only 120 being solved.