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Fraud victims come forward

Fraud victims come forward

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A man exits an ATM booth on Norodom Boulevard in Phnom Penh.

Two more suspected victims of a bank card cloning scheme have come forward following concerns that customers in Cambodia are being targeted by a criminal gang.

On Monday, The Post reported that four residents of Siem Reap had lost between US$500 to $2,200 in the past week. 

They believed they were victims of “skimming” – a practice whereby  criminals steal account data from a bank card using devices such as fake readers attached to teller machines.

ANZ Royal  chief executive  Stephen Higgins  said this  week  he had asked police to investigate the use of cloned credit cards by a gang in the Kingdom that appears to be composed of foreigners.

Yesterday, American tourist Ed Sawyer contacted The Post to say that he had lost US$700 after using a Canadia Bank ATM in the coastal town of Sihanoukville on June 1. He was left broke and stranded in a foreign country.

“I found out after I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City that my account had been raided,” he said. “From what my bank in America told me, it looks like the transactions were coming out of an ANZ Royal Bank ATM in Phnom Penh.” 

Joost Hoekstra, a doctor a the Naga Health Clinic in Siem Reap, also reported being a victim. He learned from his Netherlands-based bank on June 7 that $1,400 was fraudulently taken from his account in three separate transactions.

“I used my card only in Siem Reap and only with the ATMs of Canadia Bank. They managed to send money from my account to some obscure bank in the US,”he said.

According to a statement provided by Hoekstra’s Dutch bank, the money was withdrawn from his account using Bank of America and Chase Manhattan Bank ATMs in the towns of Bensenville and Warrenville in Illinois, in the United States, on June 3

“When I went to the Canadia branch in Siem Reap to complain, I was sent to a man who pretended to know nothing about it. The people who are doing this are more intelligent than the banks,” he said.

Officials from Canadia Bank could not be reached for comment yesterday. Vice-president Dieter Billmeier said on Monday he was not aware of any complaints.

National Bank of Cambodia director-general and spokeswoman Nguon Sokha said the banks had yet to report any offences to the NBC.  

“They said so far that they still can handle everything,” she said. “Banks, if they understand their own issues, will strengthen the safety of their systems and the soundness of their systems because it also concerns the bank’s reputation.”

ANZ’s Higgins said yesterday that he thought his customers  were “safe”. 

“We don’t believe [skimming] is possible on our ATMs,” he said. “We’re not sure whether anti-skimming devices have been installed more generally across Cambodia.” ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JAMES O’TOOLE

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