Hundreds of Kapiti Kiwibank customers hit by international bank card scam
A Kapiti mother woke up on Thursday morning to discover $750 of her family's money had been stolen by scammers.
Jolene Curtis is one of hundreds of Kiwibank customers who have been hit a week before Christmas by an international bank scard scam.
It was discovered overnight on Wednesday that a skimming device had been attached to the Coastlands Mall ATM in Paraparaumu, Kapiti Coast, from August 16 till 22, and again in early September and November, Kiwibank said.
The scammers used the device to obtain the account numbers and pin numbers of customers. These details were sent overseas and fake cards are made that are used to withdraw money from international ATMs.
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Curtis said she and her husband had been paid overnight, but when she checked this morning there was only $4 in her account.
"I felt really really sick and cried. It had heaps of international transactions and lots of conversion fees," she said.
"I woke up my husband and had to tell him we could only put enough petrol in the car for today."
Kiwibank arranged for the family's rent and bill payments to still be honoured overnight, while it arranged to refund the stolen $750.
The theft came on top of a tough year for the Curtis family with Jolene's husband Steve, an aunt and uncle all undergoing treatment for cancer. Her uncle passed away six months ago.
"We haven't got much anyway and they cleaned us out. It's been a horrible year and I just thought, 'I can't take any more'."
She praised Kiwibank's investigation team for how it handled the problem, after she had told customer services there was no way the family could wait for the money to be refunded.
"We live week to week. If we had savings or more money it would be ok, but we are a low-income, struggling family. This is a lot of money for us and we needed it back."
Kiwibank communications manager Bruce Thompson said the scammers had got away with some funds, but the bank's system had acted quickly to put a stop on transactions.
He would not disclose the exact number of customers affected or the total amount taken, but said no Kiwibank customer would be left out of pocket or unable to access their funds.
"If someone makes a transaction in Porirua at 6pm and then another one in Mexico at midnight, the system knows something is wrong so puts a block on that card.
"We will then get in contact with our customers. We will protect their accounts."
All money would be replaced and the bank would work to replace cards or arrange other means of access.
Kiwibank was contacting all customers who had used the ATM when the skimming device was active and cancelling all cards involved, whether they had been hit by the thieves or not.
"It's inconvenient at any time of the year, but particularly at this time. We are cancelling more cards just in case and to protect the bank and the customers," Thompson said.
Customers who used the Coastlands Kiwibank ATM, but were with another bank could also be affected.
Thompson said all ATM users should take care to look at the machine before putting their card and pin details in, but it was hard to spot the devices.
"If it looks wrong or different, don't use it and notify the bank."
Kiwibank machines had a green sleeve on the card slot and this would typically be covered by the skimming device.
The scammers also place tiny cameras on the machines that would be hard to spot.
The matter has been referred to local and international police.
HOW TO SPOT CARD SKIMMING
The most common form of card skimming sees the card reader slot covered with an identical looking cover fitted with a magnetic strip reader.
They take seconds to install and often have a pinhole camera on the bottom to record pin numbers when entered.
If a card reader looks unusual or bigger than normal, the best way to find out if a skimmer is attached is to wiggle it with your hand.
Normally the fake reader is attached only with double-sided tape or magnets and will move around or come off when wiggled.
More sophisticated skimmers are attached inside ATM machines and "wiretap" information from cards electronically.