Police Arrest Two in Long-Running ATM Cash Grab Scam

A customer drawing cash from a Bank Leumi ATM in Yerushalayim. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Police announced Tuesday that they had solved a case in which thieves were able to steal information from customers at ATMs, creating new credit cards that allowed them to withdraw cash from victims’ accounts. The two culprits, Ashdod residents in their early 20s, got away with NIS 250,000 stolen from dozens of victims. The two were indicted in a Beer Sheva court Tuesday.

The investigation has been ongoing since March, when the first complaints of theft were received. Victims complained that money had been withdrawn from their accounts via ATMs by parties other than themselves.

According to police, the two installed a special card reader chip in the ATMs, which they were able to modify by visiting during off-hours, like overnight. They also installed a hidden camera that let them record activity at the ATM. After a few hours, the culprits would collect the chip and the camera footage and take them back to their lab.

The chip recorded the data details of the card, and that would be transferred to blank bank cards, while the camera recorded the PIN numbers used by customers. After that, it was a simple matter of matching up the cards and the PIN numbers, and when a match was made, the two would go to an ATM and make their own withdrawal.

The two were arrested several weeks ago. In a search of their homes, police found piles of blank credit and bank cards, and tens of thousands of shekels in cash. Police plan to ask for an extension of the culprits’ remands until the end of proceedings against them.

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