One in three cash machines replaced after ‘skimming’ attacks

German banks had to replace nearly a third of all their cash machines last year because they were too easy for criminals to manipulate, according to the Financial Times Deutschland on Wednesday.

One in three cash machines replaced after 'skimming' attacks

The costs of ‘skimming’ unsecure automatic teller machines (ATM) rose by around half to €60 million last year, it said.

The practice of fitting cash machines with tiny cameras to film people tapping in their pin codes, and a covering the card slot with a reader to take the EC card data is on the rise, the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) reported this week. This data is used to produce copies of the cards which can be used in other machines to take money from the owner’s account.

BKA figures show that 3,183 ATMs were known to have been manipulated last year, the paper reported.

Each new cash machine costs the bank around €100,000. Banks are engaged in a race of technical skill against the gangs which manipulate the machines and make the EC card copies.

Deutsche Bank recently fitted their branches with door locks which require customers to use their EC cards to even reach the cash machines.

Great hope was also invested in the new EMV chip which prevented card copies being used – in Europe. But card gangs simply employed people outside of Europe to use the copied cards to withdraw cash elsewhere.

The banks are less concerned by the cash the gangs withdraw with the copied cards, and more by the cost of security measures in the attempt to maintain customer confidence. The latter worry means banks are loathe to talk about skimming, the paper said. Deutsche Bank would not comment on the costs of replacing 1,200 cash machines last year.

The group of banks including Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Berliner Bank and Postbank which form the Cash Group operating around 9,000 cash machines in Germany, had to replace around 2,500 ATMs last year according to the FTD.

The Local/hc

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German police foil teenage school ‘Nazi attack’

German investigators said Thursday they foiled a school bomb attack, as they arrested a 16-year-old who is suspected to have been planning a "Nazi terror attack".

German police foil teenage school 'Nazi attack'

“The police prevented a nightmare,” said Herbert Reul, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) state.

Police in the city of Essen had stormed the teen’s room overnight, taking him into custody and uncovering 16 “pipe bombs”, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim material.

Some of the pipe bombs found contained nails, but officers did not find any detonators, Reul said.

There are “indications suggesting the young man has serious psychiatric problems and suicidal thoughts,” said Reul.

Material found so far in the suspect’s room include his own writing which constituted “a call for urgent help by a desperate young man.”

The suspect was allegedly planning to target his current school or another where he studied previously.

“All democrats have a common task to fight against racism, brutalisation and hate,” said NRW’s deputy premier Joachim Stamp, as he thanked police for “preventing a suspected Nazi terror attack”.

The suspect is being questioned while investigators continue to comb his home for evidence.

Investigators believe that he was acting alone.

They had been tipped off by another teen who informed them that the young man “wanted to place bombs in his school”, located about 800 metres from his home.

The school, as well as another institution, were closed on Thursday as investigators undertook fingertip searches as the locations to ensure that no bombs had been placed on site.

‘Neo-Nazi networks’ 

Germany has been rocked by several far-right assaults in recent years, sparking accusations that the government was not doing enough to stamp out neo-Nazi violence.

In February 2020 a far-right extremist shot dead 10 people and wounded five others in the central German city of Hanau.

Large amounts of material championing conspiracy theories and far-right ideology were subsequently found in the gunman’s apartment.

And in 2019, two people were killed after a neo-Nazi tried to storm a synagogue in Halle on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.

Germany’s centre-left-led government under Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in December pledging a decisive fight against far-right militants and investigators in April carried out country-wide raids against “neo-Nazi networks”, arresting four suspects.

The suspects targeted in the raids were believed to belong to the far-right martial arts group Knockout 51, the banned Combat 18 group named after theorder in the alphabet of Adolf Hitler’s initials, US-based Atomwaffen (Atomic) Division or the online propaganda group Sonderkommando 1418.

German authorities were also battling to clean extremists from within their ranks. Last year, the state of Hesse said it was dissolving Frankfurt’s elite police force after several officers were accused of participating in far-right online chats and swapping neo-Nazi symbols.