When in Mexico, don’t use the ATMs

091815blog atm skimmer krebs

Screen grab of Bluetooth PIN skimming device pulled from ATM

Credit: Brian Krebs

Security expert Brian Krebs, who has made a specialty of exposing ATM scams over the years, has a doozy of a three-part series this week uncovering a widespread scheme in Mexico based on sophisticated Bluetooth technology and old-fashioned cash bribes.

In part one, Krebs describes being tipped off by an employee of a Mexican ATM company, explains how the scam works – bribe-enabled physical access to the machines is key -- and embarks on a trip to Cancun to attempt to gauge the scope of the illegal operation first-hand.

Part two reads like a detective novel as Krebs moves about Mexican tourist establishments checking for a telltale Bluetooth signal emanating from ATMs. He has no trouble finding them.

And in the third installment Krebs builds a circumstantial yet convincing case that one particular ATM company – new and peculiarly difficult to contact – may be a front for this criminal operation.

It’s scary stuff, compelling reading and a great example of investigative journalism at its best.

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