Police visit Portree to highlight the threat of ATM fraud devices in the Highlands

PC Alan MacLennan gives shopper Pauline Lamont from Kensaleyre a demonstration of the skimming devices and highlights what to look out for.

Police officers from the Highlands and Islands division visited Skye with a mock ATM machine last week to help people identify the warning signs when it comes to skimming devices.

Officers from the preventions and interventions unit set up a demonstration point at the Co-op supermarket in Woodpark Road, Portree, to highlight the devices – attachments added to cash machines to surreptitiously read card details without the cardholder’s knowledge.

Speaking during the demonstration day at the Co-op, PC Alan MacLennan told the Free Press: “We are looking at the scam aspect here. We are looking at the pin number area and trying to keep it safe, and show ways that people might be able to find out your number.

“That could be done by someone looking over your shoulder, using a mobile phone to record the pin number, or using children. Unfortunately, children can be used. When we are in a queue we are a lot more relaxed if children are standing – we become more aware of our personal space if there’s an adult next to us.

“There are various things that can be placed on top of the machine, so people should have a general awareness of the machine and push and pull it to make sure there is no ‘give’ because these should be solid.

“These things can be put in place very quickly – it’s just a case of parts being stuck to the ATM. In previous years the way we have actually found them is that the adhesive has started to give, so when people put their card in it has become stuck – but the damage might have been done already within that space of time.”

PC Alan MacLennan and PC Keri Jones of the Highlands and Islands Police Preventions and Interventions Unit set up a demonstration point in the Co-op supermarket in Portree last Friday.

PC MacLennan said that while there had not been any local reports of such scams lately, it was important that people remained vigilant to the possibility of it happening.

“We have not been alerted to anything locally this year. Certainly, the Inverness area, where I’m based, was hit quite hard this year.

“It is usually at this time of year that we start to see a bit of an increase in this type of thing, so it’s a preventative message that we are giving to members of the public and communities.

“From doing these demonstrations, I find I get a better response from the older age groups – that is maybe because they are using ATMs more or are more scared of this sort of thing.

“If you are aware of something that doesn’t feel right, or are just unsure, phone the police.”

Police Scotland have already carried out anti-skimming demonstrations in Aviemore, Nairn, Wick, Thurso, Tain and Inverness over the last few weeks.

Further advice concerning ATM fraud is available via the Police Scotland website here.

Article and images by Adam Gordon.