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Sep 20, 2011

3D Printers Used to Create ATM Skimmers

ATM skimmers were printed with high-tech 3D devices by a group of fraudsters who managed to steal more that $400,000 (€ 280,000) from unsuspecting bank customers.

Like every other major improvement in technology, 3D printers are put to good use among thieves, this time in the attempt to replicate credit card slots strategically placed on automated teller machines.

The scam isn't new, but the fact that 3D printers represent the means of doing it, is. The new devices don't come cheap, but it looks like the investment is well worth it, right up until you get caught by a police officer working under cover, informs Krebs on Security.

Skimmers are components placed by those who plan on committing bank fraud, on the front of cash machines, right on top of the credit card slot in a way to make it look like it belongs there. Each card that passes through the contraption is copied into the device, exposing all the information to the crooks. Because credit card information is almost worthless without a PIN code, tiny cameras are strategically placed to record the security digits of each.

The four men indicted by a federal court in June used a 3D printer to create perfect scanners that would be placed on automated banking machines.

After the gang's leader, Jason Lall was imprisoned for ATM fraud in 2009, the rest of his men had to come up with a new way of procuring the contraptions. That's when the techie behind the whole operation came up with the plan of printing them.

“When [Lall was] put in jail, we asked, ‘What are we going to do?’ and we had to figure it out and that’s when we came up with this unit,” Paz allegedly told an undercover officer that infiltrated the group.

The accomplice that handled the “heavy lifting” was Albert Richard of Missouri City, Texas. He was in charge with mounting the skimmers on the machines, making sure that the surveillance camera's were blocked.

The last member of the gang had the mission of driving all around Texas, emptying the bank accounts of the victims.

According to the owner of a company that handles 3D printing, costs for a high-end device that could almost flawlessly reproduce the front of an ATM can reach $20,000 (€14,000).


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