Criminals target bank machines at hospitals

April 17, 2012 - All News

Criminals are targeting friends and relatives of hospital patients who use bank machines inside GTA hospitals.
Eight Toronto-area hospitals have been targeted for “skimming” operations where criminals attach, often using double-sided tape, small, hard-to-detect card readers inside automatic teller machines (ATM) machines and siphon away money from your bank accounts.
“It’s a lowly offence at the best of times,” Det. Ian Nichol of the Financial Crimes Unit said at a news conference Tuesday. “Clearly, when people are going to the hospital they have other things to worry about other than their financial security. It’s definitely a lowly thing to do.”
The banks will be the ones who ultimately take the hit but the people victimized will be inconvenienced when they notice money missing from their accounts.
If you don’t cover the keypad as you punch in your PIN number, a pin-hole camera records your card number and PIN.
The eight GTA-area hospitals are only the ones police know about.
The latest two devices were found last Wednesday at Toronto East General and Toronto Western Hospital.
Other hospitals targeted include: the Hospital for Sick Children, Scarborough General, North York General, Oakville-Trafalgar, Lakeridge Health in Bowmanville and Southlake Regional Hospital in Newmarket, Toronto East and Toronto West.
“We believe that the hospitals are being targeted because of the high volume of pedestrian traffic and the fact that the ATM machines are located within open common areas,” Staff Insp. Bryce Evans told reporters.
He added that police are now reviewing hospital security cameras to try to identify suspects.
“In the past several days, members of the Financial Crimes Unit have met with the security administrators to give updates and educational lessons in how to detect skimming devices,” Evans said.
With this new technology, police have seen an increase in organized groups getting involved in financial crimes.
The skimming devices captured are called ‘two-in-ones’ because they contain a card reader and a pin-hole camera. The two pieces are contained in one device.
Police say that the armed security guards who service the ATM machines have uncovered these skimming devices.
The first known skimming device to be captured was on Nov 18, when two devices were found.
Other skimming devices were found on Nov. 24, March 5, March 29, March 30, and two more on April 11.
Affixing these small rectangular boxes to ATM machines is “not complicated” and that’s why it’s hard to detect, Nichol told reporters.
There have been no arrests in this case.
Police don’t know how many victims are out there or how many dollars have been lost in this case.
Police also say don’t want the scare the public away from using ATM machines inside hospitals.
If you’re using an ATM machine, police say you should always cover the keypad with your hand when entering your password.
Police say they believe other hospitals across Ontario and Canada are being targeted.
They say the sophistication of this crime stretches around the world.
— Torstar News Service