Scam Reports At Chiswick ATM

One victim claims to have lost £12,000 after thieves target his card


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Bank customers are being warned to be careful when withdrawing money from ATM machines in Chiswick, following at least two claims of ‘scamming’ incidents on the High Road this week. One individual has claimed he  had over £12,000 stolen from his Barclays Bank accounts.

Mariusz Czapla (30) who is the Bar Manager at Sam’s Brasserie told that he wanted everyone to be aware of the dangers following the loss of a huge chunk of his savings. The incident is being investigated by Barclays Fraud department and has been reported to Chiswick Police.  

He said he had been playing football on Monday night and then went for a few drinks to the pub with friends. Sometime before midnight he decided to withdraw £50 cash from the Barclays ATM on the High Road.

“The first machine I tried seemed to be blocked. I thought it was strange but as there are two machines there, I just tried the second one. The transaction was verified and although it took a bit longer than usual I was not suspicious. Then when the message came to withdraw the card it seemed to be stuck and I could not get it out of the ATM”.

Mariusz said he warned other people in the queue behind him that the machine seemed to be broken, and given the time was around midnight, he decided to go home and visit the bank on Tuesday morning.

“At first the bank said they did not have my card and when I asked to look at my accounts I saw several weird transactions, including very large ones from my savings accounts.

“This really worried me as I don’t know how they can get access to my  savings  and I never have more than £ 300 in my current account”.

He said it seemed the very first withdrawal for £300 was made from another bank on the High Road, about half an hour after he left the ATM. Other withdrawals were made from Wimbledon and purchases were made in south London at an Argos store . He estimated that more than £12,000 was taken from his savings.

Mariusz, who has lived and worked in Chiswick for five years, and is originally from Poland, said he had heard of scams happening to other people but never dreamed it would happen to him.

" I am telling you the story because I want everyone to be aware. If the machine retains your card, then don’t delay, cancel it straight away. It could be because of this scam where they insert a device with a camera which copies your details. Usually someone is  watching you and when you leave, they start to take the money.”

Since the incident he has spent several hours giving statements to police and bank fraud investigators, he said. has also been contacted by a member of the public who claimed that he had a similar experience at that ATM on Chiswick High Road on Tuesday. He said  that his card had been retained at the machine and the perpetrators had managed to withdraw £ 300 from his account from an ATM in Kew.

“ Please be on your guard when withdrawing money from ATMs. I’m sure these scammers will target other ATMS, not just the ones in W4”, he said.

A favourite scam used by thieves is known as the Lebanese Loop. The term “Lebanese loop” is applied to any number of similar devices that are used to perpetrate ATM fraud by retaining the user's card. In their simplest form, Lebanese loops consist of a strip or sleeve of metal or plastic (even something as simple as a strip of video cassette)  that is inserted into the ATM's card slot.

When the victim inserts their ATM card, the loop is long enough for the card to be fully drawn into the machine and read. The victim then enters their PIN as normal, and requests the funds. The ATM then tries to eject the card, but a "lip" folded at the end of the loop prevents the card from being ejected. T he victim believes the machine has malfunctioned or genuinely retained their card.

Another part of the scam involves the perpetrator  obtaining the victim’s PIN number either by watching them enter it the first time (shoulder surfing), or approaching them under the pretext of offering help and suggesting they re-enter their PIN (and watching them do so). Once the victim has left the ATM, the perpetrator retrieves the loop and the trapped card, and uses it, along with their PIN, to withdraw cash from the victim's account.

We have contacted the Police to ask about the reports of ATM scamming in Chiswick.

April 18, 2012