TMCnet News

[May 07, 2006]


(Sunday Mercury Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)PETROL giant Shell yesterday suspended chip and pin payments in 600 filling stations across Britain as fears grew over a pounds 1 million card fraud scam.

BP and other petrol companies were also looking into reports of fraud, including a number of incidents in the Midlands, as police seized eight people for questioning.

Motorists throughout the UK have had their credit and debit card details copied by fraudsters, and then money has been withdrawn from their accounts.

More than pounds 1 million has already been siphoned off by the scam, and an investigation by the Metropolitan Police's Cheque and Plastic Crime Unit is under way.

The scam works by criminals implanting devices into chip and pin machines, which can copy a bank card's magnetic strip and record a person's pin number.

Petrol giant Shell has suspended chip and pin transactions in all 600 of its company-owned petrol stations across the UK.

A further 400 Shell outlets run by external franchisers have continued to use the service.

Meanwhile, BP is investigating card fraud at a number of filling stations in Worcestershire - but it is not known if this is connected directly to the chip and pin probe.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the scam, including one person from Guildford and another from Portsmouth, according to the Association of Payment Clearing Services.

Association's spokeswoman Sandra Quinn said: "They have used an old-style skimming device. They are skimming the card and copying the magnetic details.

"They have managed to tamper with pin pads that are supposed to be tamper-resistant. The devices are supposed to shut down, so that has obviously failed."

A Shell spokesman said: "In the interests of our customers, we have temporarily suspended chip and pin availability in our UK company-owned service stations.

"This is a precautionary measure to protect the security of our customers' transactions. You can still pay for your fuel, goods or services with your card by swipe and signature.

"We will re-introduce chip and pin as soon as it is possible. We apologise to our customers if there has been any inconvenience caused."

Chip and pin was hailed as 'the new, more secure way' to pay by debit or credit card when it was first introduced in 2003. Using a pin number instead of signing for goods has been obligatory since February.

Promoters of chip and pin insist it has brought down the level of card fraud, by as much as 13% in 2005.

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