Would You Have Spotted This Skimmer Found On An ATM In Mexico?

Image courtesy of (Krebs on Security)

Banks and credit unions here in the United States are reporting ATM card fraud that originated with skimmers in the touristy town of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Imagine the opportunity from a criminal’s point of view: an area full of American tourists with nice, magnetic-strip cards! Would you have been a victim? It helps if you know how to spot a compromised cash machine.

Here’s the front of one machine where skimmers were found. Does anything look amiss?

Here, the cover of the little alcove containing the PIN pad is covered with a part that matches almost perfectly and looks like part of the ATM. It isn’t, though: that surface conceals a pinhole camera meant to capture your hand as you punch in your PIN, and the batteries needed to keep that camera going while lots of victims come and go. The best clue to the fraud is maybe the millimeter of space between the camera unit and the ATM.

Give it another try. Here’s a closer view of the machine’s card reader. What do you see?

Yes, the added part is over the card reader, which has the actual skimmer that captures the card numbers. This is why it can be a good idea to give any parts of an ATM that look a little iffy a pull: this reader might have come right off if someone had done that.

Spike in ATM Skimming in Mexico? [Krebs on Security]