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Home DFR Observations & Comment Monthly Digest - Nov 2008 Monthly Digest - Nov 2008 E-mail
Written by Douglas Russell   
Monday, 08 December 2008 20:13

Explosive Attacks

One of the most dangerous and damaging types of ATM physical attack involves the use of explosives to blow up the ATM and gain access to the cash. A spate of attacks using explosive gas occurred in Sydney, Australia during November. At least eight attempts were made using explosive gas by what appears to have involved two groups of attackers...

The damage to the buildings housing the ATM as well as the potential damage and risk to those in the street was made evident in one of the incidents where the gang’s get-away-car was made inoperable by the explosion. Another incident was aborted after the gang were disturbed.  Witnesses report that at least one of the perpetrators had a firearm. Originating in Italy, explosive gas attacks have been previously reported throughout Europe.


South African gangs who have been using solid explosives (stolen from the mining industry) to blow up ATMs have recently begun targeting Cash In Transit (CIT) armoured vehicles. According to statistics released from the Safety & Security Ministry, 391 ATMs were attacked with explosives in the last year. Other estimates put the number at over 1000 attacks.

Malaysian authorities recovered a gas cylinder, crowbar and lighter from a failed attempt to access an ATM Security Enclosure. CCTV cameras had been sabotaged prior to the attack.

Ram Raid Attacks

Ram raid attacks, particularly in the USA continued during November with the perpetrators using a variety of vehicles from front end loaders and forklift trucks stolen from nearby construction sites to sports utility vehicles. Demonstrating that some ram raid attacks may be foiled by more securely fixing the ATM to the ground, in one reported incident the suspects admitted giving up on one attack and simply drove off to find another location where the ATM was not anchored to the floor. Even when the ATM is not successfully stolen, damage to premises is usually significant.


In three ATM skimming related incidents in Greece, police arrested a total of four Romanian nationals and three Bulgarian nationals during November. Two of the Romanian suspects are reported as having more than 300 encoded cards in their possession when stopped at the airport.

A Europe wide operation initiated by Belgium police, Europol and Eurojust resulted in fifteen arrests in November. The suspects are thought to have used skimming devices and miniature cameras to compromise cards and PINs. Countries linked to the investigation include Romania, The Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Cyprus, Spain, Canada, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Dominican Republic and Morocco. Seven arrests were made in Belgium, six in Romania and two in Spain.

The South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) have reported that credit card fraud incidents increased by 146% in the past three years costing R420 million in the last year. Counterfeit rose from R57.2 million to R118 million. These figures however have a backdrop of significant increase in the number of card transactions in the country with credit card transactions increasing by 101% and Debit cards transactions increasing 547%.

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) in Thailand charged three Thais and two Romanian nationals with fraud related crimes. Skimming equipment, spy cameras, mobile phones and a firearm were seized in what is estimated as a 50 Million Baht crime incident.

ATM Funds Transfer

Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) released statistics in November that incidents of ATM Funds Transfer Fraud during October declined 38% and in money terms by 46% to 1.57 billion Yen. Six arrests were also reported.  In a separate report covering a possible data compromise, 400 million Yen is estimated to have been obtained using counterfeit ATM cards.

False Deposit

Students in the USA were warned not to risk a criminal record by assisting others by selling or renting out their ATM cards and PINs. The modus operandi includes the perpetrators obtaining valid cards and PINs then making false deposits at ATMs. Withdrawing against the credit balances before the deposits have been reconciled.




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