Indian gang tricks ATMs to hand over thousands


cashpointGareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A gang in India found a way to trick cash machines into giving them thousands of rupees, with cunning sleight of hand that made the machines think they hadn't dispensed any cash at all. They took more than £150,000 of cash before being caught.

So what card trick conned the cash machines, and could it happen here?

The trick

According to the BBC, the gang went to a number of cashpoints, where they took out 10,000 rupees at a time (£115). However, instead of taking all the cash when it was dispensed, they left the last 100 rupee note in the machines, which would take the last note back in, and would think none had been taken.

Unfortunately for the gang, their trick was discovered by the Federal Bank of India, they were traced and the gang has been arrested.

Could it happen here

Experts in the UK have warned that the same fate would face a gang trying the trick here. Even if the machines could be made to think the cash had not been taken, the incident would be spotted by the network behind the cashpoint, and a combination of the card you used, the CCTV footage, and your location would be used to track you down. It would be investigated like any other fraud, and you would be prosecuted as a fraudster.

Graham Mott, a spokesman for Link, the UK's cash machine network, told the BBC that the UK had seen spates of this sort of thing in the past, but that the individuals were always caught. He said it tends to happen where one person tried it and thought they had been successful, so passed on the 'secret' to their friends. He said: "You tend to get people trying to give it a go. As with other forms of fraud, it tends to be a bit cyclical."

Fraud people get away with

This kind of fraud is clearly unrewarding as well as being illegal. However, there is a form of ATM fraud that people have been able to get away with in the past. As we reported in May, a cashpoint in Hampshire was spitting out double the amount being requested, and after admitting the fault was theirs, HSBC agreed to let them keep the cash.

Before that, an ATM in Hull had been incorrectly filled, so that people requesting amounts in £10 notes were receiving £20 notes - and therefore double the cash, while those asking for denominations of £20 were receiving £10 and therefore less than requested. The bank said no-one would be left out of pocket, and that it would not be pursuing the extra cash.

Of course, in each instance, the crowd of people who came to the ATM when they heard it was giving away free cash were clearly cashing in, and were committing fraud - which they subsequently got away with.

The banks deem the amounts and hassle involved to make it not worth pursuing in these sorts of cases. It therefore renders this the ATM fraud you are most likely to get away with. It just means waiting for a malfunction, and then deciding you are comfortable with breaking the law.

Which makes it the fraud you're most likely to get away with - but the one your least likely to be in a position to try.

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