Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Card Crime That Is Swiping Your Cash; This Is Money

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Card Crime That Is Swiping Your Cash; This Is Money

Article excerpt

Byline: SIDDIKA KHALIQUE

IF you don't want to end up funding the global drugs trade to the tune of [pound]24 million a year, don't let your credit card out of your sight next time you pay a restaurant bill. London, already the capital city for many forms of crime, has just charged ahead and become the number one victim for a blossoming form of crime known as skimming.

Officially known as credit card counterfeiters, skimmers have in the past 12 months caused a rise in complaints of this type of fraud in the capital by one third.

And, according to the police, the money nefariously raised goes straight into the pockets of Eastern European and South-East Asian criminal gangs to fund the drugs and money laundering trades.

But the worst news is that, although card issuers are required to refund victims, the unwary could find themselves considerably out of pocket.

The police, in association with the Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) which represents the credit card industry, have just launched a campaign to raise awareness of this fast-growing crime.

Restaurants, bars and petrol stations are particularly targeted by the fraudsters because of the large numbers of people paying with plastic who are often distracted by the dim lighting, their companions or, in the case of the petrol station, by being in a hurry.

Skimming is so easily done it is almost impossible to spot. The perpetrator carries a card reader, a black plastic box about the size of a matchbox, thus easily hidden in the hand, clipped on a belt or under a counter.

One swipe through the reader and all the details on the magnetic strip are copied. When full, those details are downloaded and copied onto a blank strip which in turn forms part of a counterfeit card.

Police say there are actually counterfeit credit card factories in the capital.

American Express and other charge cards with no limit and gold and platinum cards with high limits are favourite targets because of the high yields.

Perpetrators favour supermarkets to get cashback at the tills, several times a day, and are very often active over the Channel in France and occasionally Spain where tellers are less knowledgeable about British credit cards. …

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