Lao Police Hunt For Suspected ATM Thieves, Warn Public

Source: Vientiane Times

Police officers are hunting for suspects who are using fake ATM cards to withdraw money from various bank ATMs in Vientiane and the provinces.

So far, numerous people have fallen victim to the criminal action and a considerable amount of money has been lost, according to the Economic Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security.

The department has issued a warning with pictures of the two wanted suspects asking members of the public who see the suspects to inform the nearest police station. The pictures were highlighted in Khuamsangob newspaper, which is published by Ministry of Public Security.

“Be aware of the crime in which fake ATM cards have been used to withdraw money from ATMs of various banks in the Lao PDR,” the department said in the warning notice.

The criminals used skimming devices attached to ATMs to record people’s card information when they used the machines. The criminals then used the acquired information to produce fake cards to withdraw money, the official, an officer of the department, explained to Vientiane Times yesterday.

The suspects have been captured by closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) behaving suspiciously. There is no information on the nationalities of the suspects and the number of those involved remains unknown.

Lao Police Hunt For Suspected ATM Thieves, Warn Public

In its warning notice, the department said the criminals applied various tactics to carry out the organised crime that has caused great loss of money.

In light of the issue, police officers and representatives of the banks held talks on the issue to explore measures to prevent the criminal action, according to the officer.

The department warned various commercial banks to take action to properly manage and inspect their ATM services to prevent the issue.

A local bank senior official said producing a workable fake card that can withdraw money from ATMs was possible when the real ATM card information is acquired and copied.

Compensation for the money lost to the criminals by customers could be made on a case by case basis, he added.

In the case the loss of money is caused by a banking system not meeting security standards, for instance, appropriate consideration would be made to compensate depositors.

But where the loss of money falls under the responsibility of the depositors, for instance the depositors failed to properly keep their ATM password secret and other people use the password and withdraw money from their accounts, the bank would not compensate, he added.

The official suggested ATM users to carefully observe ATMs, especially the card insert panel to ensure there is no skimming device attached as well as covering the ATM keyboard panel so no one else can see the password entered.

ATM users are urged to report any suspicious machines or irregularities to their bank immediately.