Visa Issues Alert on Organized Crime Rings’ Fraudulent ATM Withdrawals


U.S. financial institutions have been put on alert for more sophisticated, and more dire, ATM cash-out fraud schemes, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Both credit card juggernaut Visa Inc. and Fair Isaac Corp., a leading payments fraud analytics company, issued alerts to clients in the past two weeks. The Visa alert warns of cases in which organized criminal groups in various parts of the world have been plundering cards and accounts by penetrating internal networks at financial institutions. “In a recently reported case, criminals used a small number of cards to conduct 1000’s of ATM withdrawals in multiple countries around the world in one weekend,” Visa said.

The company said hackers are “gaining access to issuer authorization systems and card parameter information,” to manipulate daily withdrawal amount limits and card balances, among other things, “to facilitate massive fraud on individual cards.” Payments experts and data security pros say Visa’s advisory is notable because the activity described goes beyond conventional ATM cash-out fraud schemes, such as skimming. Where two years ago the typical ATM swindle involved a handful of people, it now involves organized rings of dozens of people hacking into financial databases, using software to recode the data onto the magnetic stripe on blank white plastic cards, and then serving as money mules cruising ATM machines to withdraw cash, said one expert.

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