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Hear that? It’s your bank PIN being stolen

The ATM skimmer uses components from a cassette player.
The ATM skimmer uses components from a cassette player. Krebs on Security
/ Source: SecurityNewsDaily

Criminals are using outdated audio technology to create a devious, high-tech ATM skimmer, a device that attaches to the cash machines and steals PIN data right from under your fingertips.

The European ATM Security Team, or EAST, reports learning of a new type of skimming device that uses parts from portable cassette players to capture users' PIN codes. The skimmers, which also use parts from cheap mini-spy cameras, have been found on automated teller machines in five European countries, two of which the security team called "major ATM deployers," meaning they have more than 40,000 ATMs.

The blog Krebs on Security first reported on the new skimming technology and linked to a website, Chrisi's Stuff (, that explains the science behind the scam.

As detailed on Chrisi's Stuff, the magnetic head of a mono cassette player serves to amplify the signal encoded on the magnetic stripe on the back of every bank card. Fed into the microphone input of a computer, the signal can be read by detecting the width of the pulse, or how the user data is written on the bank card.

EAST noted that the audio device is mounted on a piece of plastic that fits over the card reader on a standard ATM, camouflaged to look like part of the machine. The audio device is used to record data stored on themagnetic stripe as the card slides past.

The micro-camera, embedded in the skimmer, steals the PINs of the people using the ATM, obviously unbeknownst to them.