Grandmother, 72, defeats ATM robbers

Eileen McCartney distraction robbery

Eileen McCartney, a 72-year-old grandmother from Orwell in Wigan, was targeted by a gang of thieves at a local cashpoint. She was initially taken in by the ATM scam, but when she realised what was going on, she fought back with impressive gusto.

Eileen was getting money out of a Natwest branch ATM back in March. She had just put her card in the slot when a man tapped her on the shoulder and told her she had dropped £20 on the floor. When she looked down, a separate gang member switched the card in the slot for a fake one.

The idea of the scam is that the victim puts the fake card away in their wallet, and walks away none-the-wiser. Meanwhile, the gang has their card and has snooped on their PIN, so they are free to withdraw as much cash as they like.


However, Eileen told Wigan Today she had seen a similar distraction technique explained on Crimewatch, so she worked out what was going on. She challenged the man who had switched the cards, and while he initially denied having done anything, in his haste to explain, he accidentally revealed he was holding her card.

She snatched it out of his hand, ran into the branch, and shouted that she was being scammed. At that point the gang made a quick getaway - with nothing to show for their efforts. Eileen told the Daily Mail she was very relieved, as there had been a significant sum of money in the account to pay her bills, and she could have lost the lot.

A Greater Manchester Police officer said there was a trend locally for this kind of crime, and that they appeared to be targeting older people. Anyone withdrawing cash from an ATM was warned to be on their guard.

Protect yourself

As banks have made it harder to exploit cards through initiatives like chip and PIN, criminals have turned to these less high tech methods of spying on PINs and swiping cards. It means it's more important than ever to take care when you use a cash machine.

When you approach an ATM, make sure you have a good look around, to check nobody is hanging about. You should also have your card handy, so you're not rummaging around for it, and move confidently, which could put off people looking for vulnerable victims. Finish any phone call or conversation with a companion, so you are giving the process your full attention.

When you arrive at the ATM, you should check that there's nothing unusual about it - especially the card slot. While you are using it, stand very close, and cover your PIN with your hand. When the cash comes out, put it straight into a pocket and walk away - you can transfer it elsewhere later.

Don't let yourself be distracted by anything during the process. If anything is going on around you, or anyone tries to talk to you, ignore them until you have finished.

Grandmother Warns Others About Scam She Almost Fell Victim To

Victims of scams and fraud
See Gallery
Grandmother, 72, defeats ATM robbers
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

Read Full Story Click here to comment