Sophisticated, 3D-Printed ATM Skimmer Appears in LA

By Veronique Greenwood | December 9, 2011 11:38 am

We often write about the amazing, charming, ridiculous things that 3D printers makes possible: see the fabbed hermit crab shells, the space shuttle made of pureed scallops and cheese, the “pirated” Penrose Triangle. But machines that can make any physical object using only resin powder can also be turned to more nefarious ends. Security blogger Brain Krebs reports that someone has deployed at least one impressively sophisticated ATM skimmer in LA that appears to have been 3D printed. The device fits over the front of a bona fide Chase ATM. Just looking at these babies sends a chill down your spine—this person or persons knew what they were doing. Here’s more from Krebs:

It is an all-in-one skimmer designed to fit over the card acceptance slot and to record the data from the magnetic stripe of any card dipped into the reader. The fraud device is shown sideways in this picture; attached to an actual ATM, it would appear rotated 90 degrees to the right, so that the word “CHASE” is pointing down….On the bottom of the fake card acceptance slot is a tiny hole for a built-in spy camera that is connected to a battery. The spy camera turns on when a card is dipped into the skimmer’s card acceptance slot, and is angled to record customer PINs.

Looking at the backside of the device shows shows the true geek factor of this ATM skimmer. The fraudster who built it appears to have cannibalized parts from a video camera or perhaps a smartphone (possibly to enable the transmission of  PIN entry video and stolen card data to the fraudster wirelessly via SMS or Bluetooth). It’s too bad so much of the skimmer is obscured by yellow plastic. I’d welcome any feedback from readers who can easily identify these parts based on the limited information here.

For more information and pictures of the device, check out Krebs on Security.

[via BoingBoing]

  • Cathy

    The big clue for me would be the newness of the device. I glanced at the ATM at my bank yesterday. There are big dirty smudge marks where thousands of fingers have touched, and the area below where the card goes through has been scraped off revealing bare metal. They’d basically have to replace the entire front of the ATM unit to get something like this past me, or do some hardcore custom airbrushing to age it.

  • JesseS

    @ Cathy,

    Speaking as a sculptor, making something look convincingly aged is one of the simplest things to do.

  • KE

    Here’s a tip I use at the store frequently- because frequently someone stands too closely behind me. As I type my pin I use multiple fingers, and place fingers I do not type with on other keys as if I were pressing those numbers. It garbles my pin for onlookers because it’s hard to tell which fingers are typing. An easier way is to develop the habit of always covering one’s hand while one types.
    I think, however, that this skimmer is fairly convincing, because ATMs continually change, and also because it’s new to us. If I were to design it, which I would not, I would use a phone.

  • Chris Norman

    We will not print card skimmers at Kraftwurx…but I will ask everyone…try pulling on the card reader with some effort. If its part of the machine it will not come off. If it is a skimmer, chances are it will come off relatively easy.

    Grab it good and give it a tug and a twist. Then insert your card.

    The worst ones are the black gas pumps. No cameras, easy access day and night.


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