Police: Mostly non-nationals involved in skimming

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 - 13:15

Since the ABM task force was reintroduced in September, 19 persons have appeared before the courts.

18 of them were non-nationals.

The announcement was made by ASP of the Fraud Squad Curtis Julien at the police press briefing today as he gave safety tips for ATM/card skimming especially during the Christmas and carnival season.

Julien said for the first half of the year 542 reports of ABM fraud has been reported in the Port-of-Spain area alone. He said the skimming is divided amongst four banks in T&T and there has been an increase in three of those banks between July and November.

Julien then broke down the components that help skimmers succeed.

The equipment of choice for card fraudsters


Card slug holder which skimmers use as an overlay to capture information. He said this works with a plastic panel placed at top of the screen for it appear as an ABM machine. A Wi-Fi camera is attached and a handheld skimmer which is used to record all your information.

Julien’s advice is to always keep your eyes on your card.

He said if you take your eyes off, all your information can be recorded. 

Julien said if the transaction failed or the cashier claimed the battery is low or that there is an error one should take their receipt and contact their bank immediately.

Skimmers also rig the machine by placing other components in it and according to Julien, this is hard to detect because it looks normal. And will work on any card that has a magnetic strip, such as a Massy stores card or a Starbucks card.

Julien said there was a breakthrough by the ABM task force when a Canadian citizen of Sri Lankan nationality was held however he didn’t want to give any more info on that however he said Russians, Venezuelans, Europeans, Bulgarians and Mexicans have all been held for skimming and it’s because T&T is seen as having low security when it comes to banking. However, he said the persons that mastermind these activities, never do the harvesting.

Other skimming components include a card reader and keypad guards. Julien said the speakers on the ABM’s can also be rigged.

Julien is encouraging citizens to do physical checks.

He said they should thug at card slot, physically check components on the machine and to use another machine if there are no keypad guards. He said citizens must be very vigilant.

So what do we know about skimmers? Well, the skimming devices are usually attached during early mornings and late evening as there must be a free traffic flow for the skimmers to escape.  Skimmers also don’t leave their devices in one location for longer than 24-hours.

Julien also had a warning for business owners. He said there are a number of fraudulent cheques circulating especially during Christmas and carnival season.