The criminals insert a device a bit like a fork inside the slot that dispenses cash. When the machine tries to give out cash, the claw will take it before it can be dispensed, and hang onto it. Then when you leave, the thieves can return to remove the claw and take the cash.
The Daily Mail reported that these techniques are used across Europe. The European ATM security group recently said that in the last year 15 countries reported this kind of crime. The use of this sort of basic theft has increased, after chip and PIN cards made other forms of theft harder.
Overall, The UK Cards Association says that in the first half of this year £14.6 million was lost to ATM fraud, so it's clearly big business for criminal gangs.
In the UK, there have been incidents in Lincolnshire and London. Confirmed cases are rising exponentially, with the most prolific offending happening across London, including the City.
Crime Prevention Officer Tony Blake, from the DCPCU, said:"The 'cash claw' is just the latest attempt by small-time crime gangs to steal customer and their banks money directly out of the cash machine. Industry has quickly wised up to this new methodology and is working alongside us to catch those responsible and to make it much more difficult for anyone looking to follow in their footsteps."
What to look for
The trouble with this kind of crime is that the claw is hidden inside the machine, so there are no warning signs to watch for. It means customers are unaware there has been a crime: they will assume the machine is faulty and either think that the whole transaction was void, or will go to the bank to report the fault rather than to the police.
The criminals will usually attack outside of normal banking hours, to make it harder for you to seek help from the bank immediately.
The police have warned people to keep their eyes open for any incidents. They say any faults should be reported to the bank immediately - who should check if it is a fault or whether you are a victim of crime. You also need to keep an eye on your statements, to be sure that there are no withdrawals that you are unaware of.
Avoiding cash machine fraud
It's also important to brush up on good ATM etiquette. There are some tips below from LINK, the UK's cash machine network, on how to avoid falling victim to cash machine fraud. One of the key points is protecting your PIN, and the video below from LINK was fitted by fraudsters and highlights the importance shielding your code.
1. Protect your PIN
• The simplest step of all to minimise the chances of falling victim to fraud is to shield the keypad when you enter your PIN. This will protect your PIN from a shoulder-surfer, and also if a criminal has set up a hidden camera that is filming the keypad.
• Some losses at UK cash machines are still, unfortunately, the result of PINs being written down and kept in a purse or wallet. So, the other important advice remains: 'never write down your PIN'.
2. Choosing a cash machine
• Be aware of others around you. If someone close to the cash machine is behaving suspiciously, or makes you feel uncomfortable, go to another machine.
• If you suspect that a skimming device has been attached to a cash machine, inform staff within the bank or, if this is not possible, inform the police.
3. Using a cash machine
• Be aware of your surroundings. If someone starts crowding or watching you, cancel the transaction, preferably before you've entered your PIN, and go to another machine.
• Stand close to the cash machine and always shield the keypad effectively, for example by using your free hand, to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN.
• If your card gets jammed or retained by the machine report this as soon as possible to your card issuer.
If you are a victim of card fraud you are protected through legislation, which states that you will not be liable for losses unless you have acted fraudulently or without reasonable care.
<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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>
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>