Police say thieves swiping cash with debit machines

A little off the top has never been so lucrative.



And that’s especially true in Calgary, where an ongoing economic boom lends organized crime an ability to line their pockets by skimming one bank account at a time, said Calgary Police Service Det. Darren Hafner, adding the city has become Canada’s top target for high-tech entrepreneurial thieves.



"It’s huge," Hafner said. "It’s the biggest thing going in Calgary right now."

Calgary police held an intensive skimming workshop at the Chinook Centre yesterday, focusing on Project Protect, a nation-wide initiative designed to help prevent debit and credit card skimming in the city.

Hafner said while the main culprits are organized crime, anywhere with a pin-pad or swipe machine is susceptible to the increasing mode of what essentially amounts to robbery.

"It’s one-hundred per cent organized crime," he said. "And they spend a lot to get a lot."

Since adopting Project Protect in 2005, Hafner said police have been able to extinguish the pilfering at gas stations, the traditional hotbeds of skimming activity, to the point where there were no stations hit in 2007.

Bank machines and stores are still suffering a drain as thieves, near the end of a shift, come into the store, distract the teller, and systematically swap out the legitimate hardware for their own - including pin-pad swap outs, hidden cameras, and Bluetooth technology, in order to access the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims.



  • Hafner’s tip to avoid becoming a victim of such scams include always covering up your pin number, changing your pin at least once a month, never losing sight of your card and conducting regular online bank account checks.