Card skimmers hit three Waikato towns

Thieves clean our hundreds of bank accounts

DAVID NICOLL
Last updated 15:03 11/08/2014
 Tania O’Leary
DAVID NICOLL
TARGETED: Matamata woman Tania O’Leary had more than $400 taken from her bank account after Matamata’s Westpac ATM was skimmed.
CARD skimming
WAIKATO POLICE
Police believe thieves are harvesting details in a card skimming scam.

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Thieves have cleaned out potentially hundreds of Waikato people's bank accounts months after harvesting their details in a card skimming scam.

Matamata woman Tania O'Leary found over $400 had been taken from her bank account in recent days after a card skimming machine was believed to have been placed on the Westpac ATM outside the bank's branch on Arawa St on April 12.

At around 1am on Friday, August 8, a large number of transactions occurred across Europe, mainly in Spain and the UK where money was withdrawn from accounts using card information harvested in Matamata, Cambridge and Te Kuiti.

O'Leary said she received a text message at 2.10am from Westpac which said her debit card had been blocked because of suspicious transaction.

When she got up at 5.30am and re-read the text she went straight into her internet banking to find there were 11 transactions to an account named 'Cockfosters 08'.

''They took $434 from my bank account.

''I was devastated because I live week to week and this money in the account was the spending money for my groceries and we were going out tonight for my birthday.''

Westpac media advisor Haley Ritchie said the bank's fraud team was investigating but did not confirm how many customers were hit or the amounts involved.

O'Leary said when she went into the bank there were a number of people that also had money stolen.

''Since then we have actually found out that 121 people in Matamata have been affected and that Westpac are dealing with it.''

Matamata police sergeant Graham McGurk said Matamata appeared to be part a larger scheme as ATM machines in Cambridge and Te Kuiti had also been hit during April. 

■ David Nicoll is a Wintec journalism student

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