A scam involving factory pre-set PIN numbers for ATMs has cost a Kansas marketer the contents of his cash dispenser in a matter of seconds, Oil Express reports.
The marketer, who never changed the ATM's original code, said the loss was preventable.
"If we had just read the manual that came with the ATM, we would have known to change the code, but we didn't," he said.
Oil Express reports the theft could signal a trend, as marketers buy and sell stores and inherit older ATMs.
"We would advise anyone with a legacy ATM that's more than five years old to check whether the PINs were ever changed and to make sure that they have the test software installed," said James Phillips, a spokesman for ATM manufacturer Triton told the news source. ATM vendors offer free software that helps prevent ATM thefts.
New ATMs contain a PIN that allows owners to access the machine's menu. While it does not provide access to the cash vault, it does allow thieves to change the denomination of the bills that the ATM dispensed.
In the Kansas case, while the manager loaded the ATM with $20 bills, the thieves, accessing the ATM menu, changed the denomination of the bills to $1. As a result, the thieves received 20 times the amount that the ATM actually calculated that it had dispensed.
"They swiped an ATM card . . . three times and emptied our ATM," the marketer told Oil Express. "We have the crooks on video and the authorities are investigating. The crooks are believed to travel up and down the Interstate, searching for certain brands of ATMs. If you have ATMs, make sure all the codes have been changed from the factory defaults.”
ATM vendors learned of the scam several years ago. As a result, machines manufactured today force operators to change the PIN before the machine can be used. However, the older systems are still vulnerable, the reason that Triton and other vendors produced a free software fix.
"Customers should work with their equipment distributor or processor to put in the software as soon as possible," Phillips told the news source.