Customs officers charge two Romanian nationals over card skimming allegations

Two Romanian nationals were arrested in downtown Auckland last night, accused by customs officers of knowingly importing card-skimming equipment.

ATM being used Source: Fair Go

The pair, aged 30 and 35, arrived in New Zealand in November last year.

Skimming typically involves inserting a device that reads data contained on plastic cards’ magnetic strips. These devices are placed in ATM card readers, which obtain credit card details.

In order to get a card’s PIN number, criminals attach pinhole cameras around the ATM, which are carefully concealed. Stolen data is later cloned onto blank cards and these are used by offenders at ATMs to withdraw money by fraudulent means.

New Zealand Customs today released a statement alleging the men imported two packages containing card-skimming devices for the purpose of fraudulently withdrawing money from ATMs.

Customs officers, with assistance from New Zealand Police, executed a search warrant at a downtown city address last night.

During the arrests, they recovered ATM skimming devices being manufactured for installation, blank cards and a card writer machine and tools and equipment for manufacturing skimming devices, along with computers and electronic devices, officials said.

The men were charged under the Customs and Excise Act 2018 with importation of goods that are for a dishonest purpose into New Zealand.

They were set to appear in the Auckland District Court today.

“Customs officers are always looking out for importation and use of devices that compromise ATMs for ‘skimming’. It’s a worldwide issue and New Zealand regularly encounters people travelling to our country wanting to undertake this type of criminal activity,” says operations manager of investigations Stephen Waugh.

He says further fraud charges may be laid under the Crimes Act.