Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/25/saudi_atm_scam/

Saudi cops cuff four for mad bank card scam

Easy money

By John Leyden

Posted in Security, 25th November 2010 15:38 GMT

Four teenage Saudis have been arrested over a technically implausible ATM scam said to have netted US$533,000 (two million Saudi Riyals) over two years.

The unnamed youngsters from the Taif area of Western Saudi Arabia apparently discovered game cards from the local mall allowed them to withdraw the same amount of money as the last previous legitimate ATM customer. The Terminator 2-style trick only worked at the machines run by one particular bank which "used an old system", according to authorities.

Funds came straight out of the bank's reserves and not from those of the previous customer. Bank officials reportedly noticed the discrepancies and called in the police, who tracked down one of the miscreants using video records and photos taken by ATM cameras.

The arrest of one of the group led to the arrest of three of his cohorts, who had used their ill-gotten gains to buy five cars, various Japanese imports.

Local reports are technically sketchy and fail to explain how the ATM machines, however old they were, accepted game cards.

The only theory that comes to mind is that the game cards were in some way similar to maintenance cards used by engineers to service the machines. This doesn't seem at all likely, and it seems more plausible that some sort of ATM skimming and reprogramming of the game cards was involved in the scam. ®