ATM cloning is real and it’s here in the Philippines

James Ryan Jonas

A Facebook post by an alert netizen who noticed that something is not right with the automated teller machine (ATM) he is using has gone viral, prompting fears that ATM fraud and card skimming are very much real and are already victimizing Filipinos.

Facebook user Francis Castillo posted on December 2 photos of what seemed to be tampering devices attached to one BPI ATM located at the Fort Global City. The device apprently can be used to record a user’s Personal Identification Number or PIN and perhaps even clone the ATM which can be used to withdraw all money deposited in that bank account.

ATM skimming is the process of illegally copying the personal data contained in the magnetic strip of an ATM card. It is usually achieved by installing devices that look very similar to an ATM keypad, sometimes together with a recording camera, so that they can capture the PIN and bank account details of the user. Money deposited in that account can now be withdrawn even without using the owner’s original ATM card.

Scammers tamper BPI ATM at Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

Here are photos from the Facebook account of Francis Castillo showing a tampered BPI terminal located behind the FullyBooked building at The Fort Bonifacio Global City. The photos are alarming because they indicate that these scammers and syndicates are now really operating in the Philippines and victimizing Filipinos.

fort-bgc-atm-cloning-scam fort-bgc-atm-bpi-card-fraud


Bulgarian scammers arrested

According to BPI, this scam could be linked to certain Eastern European nationalities, a few of them have been arrested recently for allegedly stealing money from ATMs using a similar skimming device.

Rappler reported that last November, a Bulgarian was arrested in Pasay City while two other Bulgarian nationals were arrested in Pampanga in May 2014 over the same incident. Police said the Bulgarians were seen installing tampered PIN pads on the ATM.

Be warned!

Make sure you know how to protect yourself from ATM fraud by following these useful tips: 10 Ways to Protect yourself from ATM skimming

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.