Harrow Town Centre is witnessing an alarming trend of ATM distraction thefts, prompting an warning from local police.
The method used by thieves is worryingly consistent and deceptive. “Offenders are distracting the victim saying that the ATM is not working and their card will be swallowed by the machine, while pressing the keypad on the PIN pad and the buttons on the ATM,” explained Constable Bogdan Necsoiu in a community message.
This ruse, which has been reported in Harrow Town Centre according to the message posted on OWL, leads to victims being relieved to retrieve their card, unaware that they have just been defrauded of £500 or more.
To combat this threat, Constable Necsoiu advises, “It’s a good idea to scan the area around ATMs before you use them. Be aware of anyone standing close by and always check the machine to see if it’s been tampered with before you use it.” He emphasises the safety of using indoor ATMs, “If you have the choice, use a cash machine within the bank, rather than on the street.”
The advice doesn’t stop there. The Constable warns against accepting help from strangers at ATMs and stresses the importance of vigilance: “Do not accept help from seemingly well-meaning strangers and never allow yourself to be distracted.” Additionally, he advises, “Stand close to the machine and always shield the keypad to avoid anyone seeing you enter your PIN number.”
Victims of such frauds are urged to act promptly. “If you are a victim of fraud, contact your bank or credit card company and report it online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk or by calling Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040,” Constable Necsoiu said.