back to article Londoners warned of card skimming risk

The Metropolitan Police is warning commuters to be extra careful when buying tickets at London train and tube stations because of an increase in card skimming. The "Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit", made up of Met and City of London officers and card industry experts, has seen an increase in card skimming devices on …


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  1. Livlondon

    Are they joking?

    "don't use a machine if someone is lurking suspiciously nearby"

    Where? at a LDN Tube station, don't they know how busy these are? Interested to know if it's smaller ones being targeted rather than your larger Waterloo, etc..

    1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Are they joking?

      Lurking is not the same as standing. Just as loitering is not the same as waiting.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Just as

        Tomaytoes are entirely different from Tomartoes.

      2. Elmer Phud

        Ooh, I dunno

        I do a very good impression of 'lurking' while just waiting and 'loitering' is an aquired skill.

        (used to play a game when a bit younger of seeing how many store detective you can spot when practicing 'lurking and loitering' in the big stores in town.

        Just how many can you get following you - while they are trying to not look like storecops?

      3. Anonymous John

        Re e Re: Are they joking?

        No, they are spelled differently.

        "Excuse me Sir, We've had a complaint that you are lurking suspiciously."

        "I'm not lurking, officer, I was watching that man who is loitering."

        "No I'm not. I was watching you lurking."

        "Right. We'll sort this out down at the police station. You're both under arrest.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But ...

        ... one can only tell the difference by loitering or lurking for a long period of time.

      5. Allan George Dyer

        Just ask

        Constable Savage...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, there you have it.

    The assurances that card payments are "entirely safe, honest" are apparently based on police and banks' disinterest. No records, no fraud, see. Don't you feel safer now?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think you'll find that the banks don't say that magstripes are safe, they want rid of them. It is magstripes that are being cloned. This is nothing to do with chip and pin or NFC etc. etc.

      Actually, card present fraud went down a very large amount when chip and pin was introduced, pretty much all card fraud at the moment is card not present. That is usually: clone the magstripe and then use the card in a magstripe only country.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes, yes, of course.

        How long has smart card technology been available and of good enough quality that it could've replaced magstripes? In other words, how long have they not been rolling out that better replacement while they could have?

        But that really is only tangentially related to the original comment.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @AC 1448

          Chip and PIN has been around for ages, pretty much everyone uses C&P in every transaction in the UK/EU. The card payment industry requires that the magstripe stays until certain large countries have moved over to C&P - Canada and America are the two main ones. I believe Canada are currently moving over. This is so that our cards work there and their cards work here. As soon as America moves over to C&P we can make a good start at getting rid of the magstripe.

          Note that "The Banks" doesn't work for all banks, globally. Most banks operate very differently from each other, Coop is hardly the same as RBS and EU/UK banks don't really equate to how stuff is done in the Americas.

          1. Jon Bright

            C&P - Not in Germany

            Whilst the German debit card system is chip-based, Germans are astounded whenever I use my UK credit card to pay using a PIN. C&P isn't EU-wide by any means.

        2. Anonymous Coward

          Chip & Pin

          Actually, it is a total farce that we are here in the 21st century, still trying to implement such a simple system. The smart card was invented in 1977, and was rolled out in France for payment security in 1992. Most of western Europe were using it by the mid-nineties.

          It was stalled here in the UK because the Midland Bank at the time were regarded as advisors to the government, and they were not comfortable with the 'newfangled' technology. They decided that mag stripes were more tried and tested...

          1. Robert E A Harvey


            Sounds about right. I recall demonstrating a C&P system bolted onto a cash register made by Kajaani OY.

            Snag at the time was that the banks didn't want pin verification in the terminal. Their idea was that the retailer would have a terminal that only did Midland cards, another for Nat West, etc. The oil companies 7 retailers wanted one terminal that covered all banks. Stalemate.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    NFC here we come - get rid of all those untidy wires!

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I can also suggest

    Avoiding paying by card on wireless terminals in restaurant chains staffed entirely by minimum-wage temporary residents - which is pretty much all of them. But also avoid carrying cash because pick-pockets operate in tube stations.

    Basically, avoid London.

    What bewilders me are those pathetic little clear green plastic inserts with a tilt-view lenticular picture of a padlock (not even a proper hologram) that some ATM providers fit over the card slot 'for security'. They just look for all the world like some dodgy card skimmer bought for a few quid off a Hong Kong eBay seller and super-glued on by some chav at two in the morning.

    1. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Up


      >Basically, avoid London.

      Good advice in all circumstances

  5. JaitcH

    Plod is for more than bashing students, like solving crime

    Why wouldn't Plod investigate credit card crime. After all, a small fraud might be a test run for a big one and. as they say, a stitch in time saves nine.

    And these guys wanted increased budgets?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They are investigating crime, how do you think that they can tell us about the fact that it is happening and where to avoid?

      Personally I prefer the Police to give me a fair warning of high crime areas so that I can be more cautious in them. Allowing them to focus on catching the criminals, rather than dealing with yet another victim.

    2. Emperor Zarg

      The supply is too great so they have to manage demand

      The banks aren't really interested in combatting fraud because admitting to large scale fraud is likely to weaken public confidence in the banks and murder their share prices - and they're all bonused in shares now. Fraud is just a cost of doing business.

      Plod isn't interested because the country is awash with fraud. They just don't have the resources to deal with it.

      In order to manage the demand for investigation down to something that the police can address (in much the same way that many shops pursue civil debt recovery for shoplifting), there are high- and low-water-mark monetary values for fraud.

      Below the low-water-mark, the police will not be interested and will refer you to your bank.

      Above the low-water-mark value, but below the high-water-mark, the police will record it as a crime, but that's about all they will do.

      And if it's above a high-water-mark value, they will even do some investigation, but probably not apprehend the culprits.

      Law and order is merely an illusion.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        If the banks weren't interested in preventing fraud, why do they fund the cheque and plastic fraud unit of the police?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          To the AC bank apologiser

          The term is "due dilligence", but what they mean is "CYA". Banks are very good at doing little sums like "if I give the plod $this much, they'll ignore $that much of stuffing the customer for things that are really our fault". And then cutting that again to the bone. They're banks, beancounting is what they do. If the tradeoff might seem unethical to anybody else, well, that's alright, just make sure nobody else notices what they're up to. Simples.

          Also, at least over here plod have a habit of refusing (or being unable, or whatever) to pursue stuff where the victim hasn't reported the crime. So claiming they have better to do than my report amounts to refusing to investigate amounts to letting the perps (and the police-funding banks) go scot free.

          You sound so reasonable, but to me, are pretty far from it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC 1648

            I work for a bank, that doesn't make me a banking apologist, or a coroporate shill. I'm more than happy to criticise banks where appropriate, indeed I have a track record of criticising my own employer who are currently offshoring IT jobs like it's going out of fashion.

            Now, here is the thing - Just because I work for a bank doesn't mean that I'm not right - The banks fund the cheque and plastic fraud unit becuase it gets crimes that would otherwise not be investigated some serious police attention. Companies do things which are good, not always for the right reasons, but more often than not the reasons aren't cynical. In this case, more than anything, it makes good business sense.

            I used to think that pretty much all companies were out to get the little guy, the police wanted to stamp on everyone, just for the hell of it. I've come to realise that it's just not the case, you just don't see the vast majority of what goes on and instead get the reported screw ups. Here is a case in point: The company I work for pay their own staff to go into schools in the East End of London and help kids from deprived areas learn to read. Why? Because it's a nice thing to do, corporate social responsibillity - they do lots more, but lets just think about this for a while - If a kid has problems learning to read, they're not going to be making massive amounts of money, they'll almost certainly have a pretty average life, what would the point in helping them out be, other than philanthropy?

            If you look you can find many, many examples of this sort of behavior, it's just it never get reported because good news doesn't sell.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              "pay their own staff to go into schools in the East End of London and help kids from deprived areas learn to read. Why? Because it's a nice thing to do, corporate social responsibillity - they do lots more" oh for god's sake.

              They could try paying taxes in the UK for a start. Then perhaps move on to not downing the western economy by using funny money schemes whilst waving two fingers at the mugs who've bailed them out (you may care to look at the remarks made by the governor of the bank of england?). That would be something like corporate bodies behaving in a socially responsible manner, would it not?

              Google "naked capitalism", "the inside job" etc for more.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              I thought you would be working for a bank

              But that's neither here nor there. The point is that you're trying to refute points made with mostly feel-good tut-tut it-isn't-so-bad-is-it apologising that may or may not have any bearing at all on the original point made. As in your latest reply.

              Yes, even banks manage to come up with schemes that are or at least look good, so they can say they went over and above what's expected of them and say they're corporately responsible. Yes. I could mention that they also could use their clout to lobby for same at the national level. But that would be besides the point. Just as your reply was entirely besides the point.

              Seeing you doing that repeatedly is what brought me to call you an apologist. I think I'll count that point proven. Even though you're right that companies themselves aren't necessarily cynical. It's looking at them and seeing what they do --with or without the very best of intentions-- and observing the results that's making me cynical. If you don't understand that, then what are you doing here?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is still an alternative...

    On the Tube - where the machines are vulnerable, - I keep using those little pieces of paper with pictures of the Queen and other old people on them. You can ask for them at your supermarket when you buy groceries and use plastic there, where the card reader has a (usually) charming minder looking after it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Cash!? :O

      but then how will we track where you go? aside from using the incredibly dense network of CCTV cameras we operate that 90% of your fare goes to maintaining while the bottom literally rusts out from under the actual trains. Trains soon to be driven entirely automatically by a bitter and arrogant robot who will decide not to open the doors at any of the platforms because the trains runs more efficiently that way. The robot will wear a hat, and as you do not wear a hat, you must bow to the robot.

      Of course you will still have to go to the train station. Where an agent will tell you to touch yourself up for his amusement and to prove that your pipe and slippers are not a bomb he will scrape bits off from it until it will have several openings and be useless for smoking with. The agent will glibly state that you have been paid a great favour and then issue you a ticket to ride on a replacement bus disservice. Where, upon several more cavity searches and background checks, you will be paid the massive favour of being driven to somewhere remote that is not at all where you wanted to go.

      From that location you can dig and then fill ditches until David Cameron is satisfactorily amused at your willingness to take his orders. You will be charged a small fee for the wear and tear you put on your government issue shovel then permitted to cry for no longer than three minutes before you must return to work. Anyone who cries longer must fill in the necessary forms and explain in no less than 400 words why they have such a blatant disregard for the carbon their bodies used to produce those tears, and by extension the environment they have just destroyed.

      And that's exactly how life in Britain works :D

  7. lglethal Silver badge

    13 crimes per million people...

    In London??? Even taking into account this is only on the tube - it seems a phenomenally small figure for anywhere in London! Either the TFL security guards need a big pat on the back or someones seriously massaging the figures!

    1. oddie
      Thumb Up


      the 13 crimes per million is not per person (people), it is per passenger. So if you take the train to and from work then that day you have been 2 passengers on the london underground (2 journeys, see?).

      so for every million passengers that mill through the gates into the underdark we have 13 who are victims to some sort of crime (that is reported).

      in other words every 76923 passenger will fall victim to a crime (on average).

      If you work in london and take the underground twice a day then that means that you will be (on average) involved in a crime every 38461 days (or every 105 years, if you do this 365 days a year..). if you love menzoberranzan a tad bit less than this, and use your infravision only 200 days a year then that means you will be a victim of crime every 192 years (I'm rounding here ok).

      if you live in london all your life and use the underground all your life (lets say from you are 15 til you are 85) then that gives you a ballpark figure of 27.4% chance of getting included in this statistic :)

      which (only) is slightly better than loading a six shooter with 2 bullets and putting your money on lady furtune :)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

    People lurking

    So when I am looking at the Underground maps because I don't use them regularly and tend to want to confirm I am heading the right way, I'm likely to be accused of being a yob who skims peoples credit cards and downloads movies without paying for them.

    1. Jimbo 6
      Big Brother

      And don't forget...

      Don't even think about taking photographs of any iconic tourist sites whilst you're in London, or you'll soon be saying hello to Mr Taser.

  9. taxman

    Dedicated cheques

    Now there's a novelty.

  10. RichardB
    Thumb Up

    So this is just going to improve...

    When everyone has contactless credit cards for 'small payments' - say under 50 quid...?

    Sure. Mines the one without the wireless rfid direct line to my bank account...

  11. Tigra 07


    "Dedicated Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit"

    Are the Plastic Crime Unit lego or playmobil?

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      I have long suspected that the existence of the Serious Fraud Office suggested that somewhere was a door labelled Trivial Fraud Office.

      Is there an Indifferent Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Come on in Number 76923, your time is up...

    So, there's a 1 in 76923 chance your card will get skimmed.

    Much better odds than winning the lottery & if your in the habit of openly entering your PIN number, you could be a *winner* !

    Your prize? A dozen letters from various credit collection agencies, about 100 unhappy phonecalls to your bank, extreme paranoia for a few weeks, a credit rating spiralling downward and anger, followed by denial, followed by feeling really stupid.

    Bottom line, although this kind of warning from the police *is* bordering on scaremongering, it's a good idea to get used to entering your PIN without having to look at the numbers on the pad - iow, cover the entire pad with your other hand and be quick.

    In reality, this is high-tech pickpocketing - the same rules apply - the 'marks' are the unaware - but hey, in *can* happen to anyone, your in a rush, trying to grab that train etc.

    ... paris, because I'd like to skim her card ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What are you on about?

    "Victims of the fraud in the UK were previously told to go to their bank, not the police, to report the crime."

    I think you'll find that the current situation is that the police will not get involved unless the card has been physically stolen. I'm not aware of any recent change in the way CC fraud is dealt with and nor are Leics police who tell you to go to your bank.

    tl;dr if the card hasn't been physically stolen then plod can't/won't deal with it.

    1. Jay 2

      Not sure about that

      I had a debit card cloned (probably in Oxford Circus tube!) a few years back. Fortunately the bank caught it when the nasty person with the cloned card withdrew £100 and then immediately attempted to withdraw another £100 (which he/she did not get).

      Once the bank and I had established each other's credentials (Bank: prove who you are! Me: erm, you prove who you are etc) they advised me to hop along to the (no so) local police station to register the crime and get a piece of paper with a number on. Once I'd sent a copy of that off with another form then the bank refunded me the £100.

      Meanwhile I learnt my lesson, and now use credit cards (not my money) instead of debit cards (my money!) for purchases. Also I take a lot more notice of what said plastic is being inserted into.

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