Residents and visitors to Hermanus have been warned of an apparent increased occurrence of ATM crimes and ‘card swapping’. It follows incidents in and around town, in which elderly citizens and visitors have fallen prey.
“From what we have been able to determine, it seems that syndicates have moved here from larger metros such as Cape Town. Their normal modus operandi is to targeted elderly residents or visitors, and to trick them into believing that they have to pay for parking at the nearest ATM. Once they are at the ATM, they pretend to offer assistance while in actual fact they are busy swapping a victim’s bank cards,” says Marius Boshoff, Hermanus branch manager for Fidelity ADT.
In card swapping, while using an ATM, an unknown person will approach the victim and try to “assist” them. Their card will be taken out of the ATM by the criminal who presses the cancel button for the card to eject. It is then swapped without the bank customer realising it. Criminals also use other ways of distracting or confusing their intended victim and thus help them in their criminal endeavour.
Boshoff says he is very concerned about this modus operandi that tends to escalate as more tourists and holidaymakers arrive in Hermanus.
“My best piece of advice for residents is to never, under any circumstances accept help from a stranger at an ATM. It is a sad and unfortunate reality that criminals are on the lookout for anyone that appears to be an ‘easy’ target, and they often prey on our general good nature in order to get what they want. If something seems wrong at an ATM, or if it looks like someone has tampered with the ATM, don’t use the machine.”
As a proactive measure to staying safe, Boshoff encourages residents to carry as little as possible in handbags or pockets and rather leave unnecessary bank or store cards and large amounts of cash at home. He also recommends:
- If you need to draw money at an ATM, use a machine in a busy, public area
- Be aware of anyone standing nearby and never accept help from strangers when entering your PIN
- Put your money in your purse or wallet before you walk away from the ATM
- If you think someone has followed you from the machine, walk into the nearest shop or up to a mall security guard