ATM scam counts on victims willing to share PIN

by. Nicole Reyes

A growing ATM scam has turned into a multimillion-dollar problem for U.S. financial institutions. Called “card cracking,” the scam began in Chicago and has now spread to other cities across the country.

Here’s how it works:

A card cracker approaches a legitimate cardholder with an offer: “Give me your debit card and your PIN. I’ll deposit my check into your account and only withdraw some of the money. You get to keep the rest.”

Sounds like easy money to many. And that’s why the scam is effective.

The criminal then uses an ATM to deposit a counterfeit check into the victim’s bank account. The card-cracker then withdraws the funds quickly, before the check is found to be fraudulent. To rub salt in the wound, the schemer usually doesn’t share any of that withdraw. He or she simply leaves the cardholder to deal with the financial institution (and potentially even the police) when the “deposit” inevitably fails to clear.

Victims are recruited through ads on social media networks, such as Facebook and YouTube. Card crackers have even been known to pitch the idea in person as college-age cardholders approach on-campus ATMs.

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