According to Le Parisien, the pandemic would have reduced the number of cases of scams at the distributor in 2021. Other factors contributing to this drop would be the increased awareness of users and more frequent police checks.
However, this type of scam has not yet been completely eradicated. Evidenced by this case that occurred in the South of France reported by La Dépêche. The criminal, a 41-year-old Ariègeois, self-taught, will have learned this sleight of hand on YouTube. This kind of tutorials abound on the web. Very detailed explanations given by individuals with hidden faces allow anyone to become a professional scammer.
The technique used here, a variant of the “Marseille collar”, is a strategy of theft without violence, also called “theft by trickery”. Some of these variants require more or less poise and dexterity. The ATM scam can therefore range from an ingenious and harmless sleight of hand to criminals, to the facilitation of a pickpocket-style theft.
The scammer in question would have made about thirty victims in Toulouse, in the Tarn and in Palmier (Ariège), his city of residence. He would have started his fraudulent activities at the beginning of December, and was caught at the beginning of January. In one month, he would have made more than 10,000 euros in loot.
The Ariègeois was caught thanks to the video surveillance devices of the banking subsidiaries where he was raging, before being apprehended at his home in Pamiers. He confessed everything during the interrogation. His judgment will take place on November 26, at the Toulouse Criminal Court. How did he do it exactly?
To carry out this theft without violence, the criminal inserts a piece of paper into the slot provided for the card: this prevents the card from coming out and gives the illusion that it has been “swallowed” by the machine. Others will use a clamp inside the dispenser. In any case, the victim does not recover his card.
The scammer will have taken care beforehand to affix a sticker stamped with the bank’s logo on the distributor and asking to send his secret code to a certain number if a card is blocked. This number is actually that of the scammer. The customer then runs and leaves, annoyed. The scammer comes back to retrieve the card with tape, and is then free to use it as he sees fit. How do I avoid getting tricked?
Regarding the case above, the sticker is a very good indication. Watch out though! It is common to find an authentic bank sticker on the ATM, with a number to call if your bank card gets stuck in the machine.
Never redo your secret code, even less at the request of a third party! In general, be very careful when composing it. Indeed, other types of scams called “Marseille collar” scams block the card inside the distributor and use other techniques to steal your code.
A “charitable soul” coming to help you if your card is blocked could turn out to be an accomplice sent to observe and remember your secret code. Some more seasoned scammers also use small cameras placed on ATMs, which are much more difficult to detect.
What if you missed the warning signs?
If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t retrieve your card for any reason, and you can’t reach your bank, object! Scammers usually plan their misdeeds on a date or time when bank branches are closed, to prevent the victim from entering them and being able to seek help immediately.
A good reflex is to have the number to call to object, somewhere other than on the card itself, where it is generally indicated. Opposing will of course involve the inconvenience of having to order and wait for a new credit card, but at least you won’t be stripped of your savings!