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Crooks drain ATM cash in new scam

Security experts are reporting a sneaky new way for crooks to pull money from ATMs. It involves a virus called Tyupkin that works on most machines.

The attack starts when a crook opens an ATM and manually installs the virus - this is easier than you might think. After that the virus is only active Sunday and Monday nights to avoid detection and better control who can pull cash.

The person pulling cash is usually a "mule" - a regular person being paid to do the one job. That way if they're caught the rest of the criminal gang is still safe.

Video Footage obtained from security cameras at the infected ATMs showed the methodology used to access cash from the machines. A unique digit combination key based on random numbers is freshly generated for every session. This ensures that no person outside the gang could accidentally profit from the fraud. Then the malicious operator receives instructions by phone from another member of the gang who knows the algorithm and is able to generate a session key based on the number shown. This ensures that the mules collecting the cash do not try to go it alone.

One this is done, the ATM reports how much cash is available and then at a command can dispense 40 bills at a time. Sounds like quite a payday.

Of course, this really doesn't affect you - unless the ATM you visit is out of cash. However, there's something crooks do to ATMs that does.

Specifically, I'm talking about ATM skimmers. These are external card readers that fit over the card slot of an ATM. There's also a tiny camera watching the PIN pad.

When you slide in your card, the skimmer steals your card data and the camera gets your PIN. That's everything a crook needs to clone your card and drain your account.

Skimmers are getting harder to spot - click here to see an elaborate example - so how can you stay safe? Well, it's best to use ATMs inside a bank. You should also cover the PIN pad with your other hand while typing in your number. That can block the camera from seeing your PIN, as demonstrated here.

Of course, ATMs aren't the only place thieves use skimmers. Click here to learn where else you might run into them and other risky places to swipe your debit card.

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