Gareth Fuller/PA Wire/Press Association Images
A gang in India found a way to trick cash machines into giving them thousands of rupees, with cunning sleight of hand that made the machines think they hadn't dispensed any cash at all. They took more than £150,000 of cash before being caught.
So what card trick conned the cash machines, and could it happen here?
Fight back - latest on scams
According to the BBC, the gang went to a number of cashpoints, where they took out 10,000 rupees at a time (£115). However, instead of taking all the cash when it was dispensed, they left the last 100 rupee note in the machines, which would take the last note back in, and would think none had been taken.
Unfortunately for the gang, their trick was discovered by the Federal Bank of India, they were traced and the gang has been arrested.
Fight back - latest on scams
Could it happen here
Experts in the UK have warned that the same fate would face a gang trying the trick here. Even if the machines could be made to think the cash had not been taken, the incident would be spotted by the network behind the cashpoint, and a combination of the card you used, the CCTV footage, and your location would be used to track you down. It would be investigated like any other fraud, and you would be prosecuted as a fraudster.
Graham Mott, a spokesman for Link, the UK's cash machine network, told the BBC
that the UK had seen spates of this sort of thing in the past, but that the individuals were always caught. He said it tends to happen where one person tried it and thought they had been successful, so passed on the 'secret' to their friends. He said: "You tend to get people trying to give it a go. As with other forms of fraud, it tends to be a bit cyclical."
Fraud people get away with
This kind of fraud is clearly unrewarding as well as being illegal. However, there is a form of ATM fraud that people have been able to get away with in the past. As we reported
in May, a cashpoint in Hampshire was spitting out double the amount being requested, and after admitting the fault was theirs, HSBC agreed to let them keep the cash.
Before that, an ATM in Hull had been incorrectly filled, so that people requesting amounts in £10 notes were receiving £20 notes - and therefore double the cash, while those asking for denominations of £20 were receiving £10 and therefore less than requested. The bank said no-one would be left out of pocket, and that it would not be pursuing the extra cash.
Of course, in each instance, the crowd of people who came to the ATM when they heard it was giving away free cash were clearly cashing in, and were committing fraud - which they subsequently got away with.
The banks deem the amounts and hassle involved to make it not worth pursuing in these sorts of cases. It therefore renders this the ATM fraud you are most likely to get away with. It just means waiting for a malfunction, and then deciding you are comfortable with breaking the law.
Which makes it the fraud you're most likely to get away with - but the one your least likely to be in a position to try.
- 1. Mid-contract price hikes
<p>It is reasonable to assume that if you take out a mobile phone contract at £30 a month for 24 months that's exactly what you'll pay unless you exceed the tariff. Yet mobile phone providers have come under fire for a snag buried in the small print – a clause to allow mid-contract price rises.</p>
<p>Prices are rising by a median of 81p a month and 70% of consumers are completely unaware off this sneaky move, according to Tesco Mobile, so be sure to check any new contracts before you sign the dotted line.</p>
- 1. Land banking
Land banking involves plots of land offered for sale, often online, with the promise of sizable returns when planning permission is approved for housing or other development. Yet often the land is located in areas protected from development by planning law.</p>
The companies involved soon disappear with investors' money and as the firms are not protected by the Financial Services Authority, their funds are not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme</p>
- 2. Money mule
Fraudsters recruit unknowing accomplices through email under the guise of offering employment, seeking a personal favour, or through internet shopping sites. The recruits are persuaded into receiving what are essentially fraudulent payments and then passing funds on.</p>
The 'mules' are frequently offered a small financial incentive to encourage involvement and face difficulties in proving their innocence when the fraud is discovered.</p>
- 3. Carbon credit fraud
The scams claim to offer people the chance to profit from carbon credits. Under regulations that permit businesses to emit a tonne of CO2 – the companies claim to offer investment in green projects like a forestry scheme or a solar panel project, which generates carbon credits that are then sold on to heavy industry.</p>
A flashy brochure or website tells of a reliable 'government-backed' scheme which provides reliable returns for investors. Such a scheme doesn't exist however – a reality investors only discovered when they have parted with their cash and the company is untraceable. As with land banking, fraudulent companies are not covered by the FSA so victims have no course for recompense</p>
- 4. HMRC phishing scam
Receiving an email from the taxman saying you are owed a payment may seem like a nice surprise, but it is actually from fraudsters trying to relieve you of your cash instead.</p>
The emails provide a "click-through link" to a cloned replica of the HMRC website. The recipient is then asked to provide their credit or debit card details - all the information the criminals need to clear your account, and sell on your personal details.</p>
- 6. Crash for cash scams
Insurer Direct Line reported a hike in the number of 'crash for cash' scams last year – where fraudsters fake accidents by making unnecessary emergency stops at busy roundabouts or slip roads, forcing motorists to crash into them.</p>
They then make bogus claims to the innocent motorist's insurer, often including fictitious injuries and passengers.</p>
- 7. Driving school scams
Learner drivers have been taken for ride by being unknowingly taught by trainee instructors. An investigation by the AA found up to 27,000 extra driving tests have been failed in the last year because one in 10 learner drivers are unwittingly taught by an instructor they do not know is learning on the job.</p>
- 8. One man mail scam
July saw the arrest of a Leicester postman who stole £46,686 worth of mail over two-and-a-half years. Yogeshbhai Patel, 38, was jailed for two years for stealing mail including 2,000 DVDs and 2,250 games along with CDs and other electrical equipment. He intercepting the valuable packages and spent the money on living a luxury lifestyle including helicopter rides and a trip to Las Vegas.</p>
- 9. Smart meter scam
The Trading Standards Institute reported over 200 cases where elderly homeowners have been targeted by telephone cold callers, purporting to be from their energy supplier and offering energy saving devices which could cut their bills by 40%.</p>
The TSI tested the devices in homes where owners had fallen for the scam, only to find they both failed to satisfy electrical safety standards or deliver any tangible energy savings.</p>
- 10. Thermal camera fraud
Thermal cameras that track ATM pin numbers are the latest weapon in their arsenal and US scientists have warned it is the next threat for this form of crime. Researchers at the University of California at San Diego found that up to 45 seconds after a person types their pin code into an ATM machine or door entry pad the numbers and even the sequence are still readable by thermal cameras.</p>