'Distraction theft' of card at cash machine

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Wednesday 4 January 2017 6.38pm
Confession time - I'm feeling very stupid for falling for a new scam, and having my debit card stolen AND revealing my PIN number at a cash machine this afternoon. But in spite of my embarrassment, it's worth putting on record as a warning.

I'd just taken some cash out of the NatWest machine at the Elephant and Castle end of Newington Causeway - it's isolated and exposed, between BetFred and Nando's , and one I usually try to avoid. As I turned away a well-dressed young man who had been hovering nearby (I assumed waiting to use the machine, and deliberately standing back so as not to see me enter my PIN) called me back and warned me that unless I waited for a receipt the machine would automatically block my card. What I needed to do was put my card in again, enter my PIN while pressing one of the other keys, then press 'cancel'. With hindsight, very silly!

But he was so confident I felt embarrassed to contradict him, and decided to humour him (!). Of course, with him hovering around giving me advice, and me trying to press one button with one hand while typing in my PIN with the other hand I must have given him the perfect opportunity to see the numbers I was entering. Then, as nothing happened and I tried for a second time, I didn't realise the machine had already returned my card, just waiting for him to take from the slot while I was distracted.

By the time I realised my card wasn't in the slot, my helpful friend had vanished.

I headed home to phone the bank. As I walked in the door the telephone rang. It was Barclays security to say they had noticed unusual activity on my card and had blocked it - but not before the thief had withdrawn 200 from the machine at Tesco's at the Elephant, and a further 4 x 200 from another machine (it shows up on my account as 'M1 Bermondsey ASD' -anyone know where that is?) - all within 6 minutes.

I'm most grateful to Barclay's for their efficiency - and they've put the money back into my account. But apart from feeling very silly, and continually rehearsing what I should have done or said, I'm just annoyed that some young b****r has got away with a thousand pounds for six minutes work - as bad as a professional footballer or a city banker!

So, take warning - and if anyone comes across him pulling the same trick, please give him a punch on the nose from me.
Wednesday 4 January 2017 6.47pm
Sorry to hear and happy it was resolved so quickly.
I know you got refunded by Barclays but still, isn't it worth reporting it to the local police station? There must be cameras around and maybe he is a known local thief? Or is Barclays the actual end victim and they should do it instead?
Wednesday 4 January 2017 7.02pm
connie wrote:
Sorry to hear and happy it was resolved so quickly.
I know you got refunded by Barclays but still, isn't it worth reporting it to the local police station? There must be cameras around and maybe he is a known local thief? Or is Barclays the actual end victim and they should do it instead?

I've already reported it, Connie. (You can report a crime online these days - waiting to hear back from them.)
Thursday 5 January 2017 8.21pm
Glad you weren't left out of pocket, but next time don't wait until you get home to report a crime: there is a public phone kiosk a few yards away from that cashpoint, and emergency calls are free...

Friday 6 January 2017 10.47am
Jules62 wrote:
Glad you weren't left out of pocket, but next time don't wait until you get home to report a crime: there is a public phone kiosk a few yards away from that cashpoint, and emergency calls are free...

Frankly, Jules62, my first thought was that the machine had swallowed my card, the helpful stranger had vanished, and then that I needed to report it to the bank and get a stop put on the card - and I had no idea what number I had to phone to do that (it's not something I carry around with me).

Emergency calls are indeed free - but we're told one shouldn't phone 999 and tie up the emergency services unless the crime is actually in progress (and I wasn't even sure of the non-emergency police number!).

Quote from the Met's website 'In an emergency you should phone 999. You should use this service if a crime or incident is happening now or if anyone is in immediate danger.'

'... an emergency is when a crime is happening, someone suspected of a crime is nearby, or if someone is injured, being threatened or in danger.'

'Dial 101 for incidents not requiring an immediate police response.'

Or report it online - https://online.met.police.uk/

I could have gone to the police station, it's about the same distance, but turned round and went straight home instead - which was lucky because I was there to receive the phone call from the bank a few minutes later and confirm the card was stolen. And then to report it to the police online (this seems very efficient, Southwark police have since got back to me).

So my advice is 'next time' DON'T phone 999 for the police unless there's some possibility of them arriving in time to do something.

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