Cash machine scam warning

PEOPLE withdrawing money from cashpoints in Felixstowe were today warned that thieves are trying to use the infamous "Lebanese loop" scam to raid their bank accounts.

PEOPLE withdrawing money from cashpoints in Felixstowe were today warned that thieves are trying to use the infamous "Lebanese loop" scam to raid their bank accounts.

Police have urged people to be on their guard when using the ATMs outside banks and building societies in the town – and to check the machines thoroughly before using them.

Thieves countrywide have been tampering with the machines, fixing false plastic slots which capture users' cards with what is known as a "Lebanese loop", which stops the card being returned, while watching to see the PIN number punched in by the frustrated cardholder.

When the cardholder leaves thinking the machine has swallowed their plastic, they remove the false slot and use the PIN to withdraw cash.

The latest warning follows an incident in which a couple were seen to have trouble with their card at a cash machine in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe.

They recovered the card with some difficulty but when the next customer stepped forward to use the machine she became aware of a man of Eastern European appearance standing behind her, looking over her shoulder.

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She then noticed a piece of plastic in the card slot and decided not to use the machine.

The incident happened at around 7pm on Friday September 19 but details have only been released today.

A police spokeswoman said officers had dealt with similar incidents where cashpoint users find the machine is not working properly and someone approaches, offering to help.

"In several of these previous incidents the customer ended up leaving their card in the machine and it is later used to withdraw cash," she said.

"Officers are advising anyone using a cashpoint to take a few simple precautions. Never let anyone see you entering your PIN number and never disclose that number to anyone else.

"Keep an eye on your card. If it gets stuck in the machine, check the card slot for anything that may be holding it in place.

"If you suspect you may have been targeted contact police immediately, using 999 if necessary, and cancel your card."

People seeing anyone acting suspiciously around a cashpoint are asked to report the matter to police, and anyone with information about the Felixstowe incident is asked to contact the town's police on 01473 613500.

The "Lebanese loop" was originally thought to be an urban myth perpetuated by chain e-mails but police up and down the country now accept that the thefts are real – and some have been captured on CCTV.

Offences generally occur after banking hours so that the card is not immediately reported giving the offenders more time to use the card.

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