December 02, 2010

Tech blog Gizmodo takes a look at how a potential fraudster just might go about getting the necessary gear to set up an ATM skimming operation.

Just how easy is it? We'll just say it takes a good deal of patience, solid research skills, more than a little technical knowledge, a basic understanding of the Russian language and anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 in startup funds.

As Gizmodo writes in its blog post:

Turns out, getting your greedy little hands on the necessary equipment requires an inordinate amount of patience and hard work. Even then, the would-be thieves (not you) are far more likely to be the targets of fraud. Ah, Karma.

Apparently, even when a potential thief finds the materials he or she is looking for, it comes at a price. Gizmodo reports the equipment is often expensive, or sold as a "rent-to-own" package. And even then, there's no guarantee:

And this every-crook-for-himself world has never been more ruthless. Skimming schemes are not only complex, but they require sophisticated (custom-made) components. It's particularly difficult to find reputable online dealers, and it's next to impossible to verify the legitimacy of what you're buying before it's too late.

It also appears many of the "legitimate" parts needed for a skimming operation come out of Eastern Europe, where language barriers might slow down an American fraudster.

Ultimately, Gizmodo concludes, the odds of a would-be criminal skimming a bank's ATM through the use of sophisticated clone parts and technical wizardry are somewhat low. But thanks to the Internet, pretty much anyone can make an attempt at this type of fraud.