Bank ATMs in Auckland are again being targeted by scammers operating sophisticated technology that clone bank cards giving them free reign to people's accounts.
So-called card skimmers have been around for decades, copying the magnetic strips on bank cards and transferring it to a blank card while a camera records the customer entering a pin.
While bank card cloning happens in New Zealand, it is not as common as other forms of scams - most of which occur online, but the method is on the rise.
Counterfeit scams account for about 15 per cent of fraudulent financial activity in this country but some of New Zealand's largest banks say the old school method of stealing money is making a comeback and becoming more sophisticated.
Both Kiwibank and Westpac said they had seen an increase in skimming activity across Auckland in recent months.
Auckland woman Desaray Williams said she withdrew money from a Bank of New Zealand and a Westpac ATM in Mangere Town Centre on two separate occasions this month and on Saturday found that $800 had been withdrawn from her account - from a Westpac-operated ATM just a few metres away from the one she had used.
Williams, who says she rarely uses ATMs and has done so only a handful of times this year, found out her bank card had been cloned when a petrol transaction failed to go through, and she subsequently checked her account.
"I checked my bank statement and it said my money was withdrawn from an ATM; I knew obviously it wasn't me because I had both my ATM cards on me," Williams told the Herald.
"I contacted Kiwibank and they said someone was putting [devices] in ATMs."
Kiwibank reimbursed the stolen money within about 20 minutes, Williams said, and the bank knew exactly what she was describing.
"When I called I was in a state of shock. I was really Googling about it, I thought the bank wouldn't take me seriously but they just asked when was one of my recent transactions and to confirm the amount, and she went straight into explaining [the scam]."
Williams believes the BNZ ATM in Mangere Town Centre was fitted with a card skimming device and camera, however, both BNZ and Kiwibank confirmed that it was not a BNZ - or Kiwibank - machine that was affected.
She has used the same ATMs three times this month, once at the BNZ machine and twice at the Westpac.
A Westpac spokesman said the bank was awaiting more information on whether its machines had been affected but acknowledged that it had seen a "recent increase in skimming activity" across the Auckland region.
"We are constantly reviewing our detection systems and strategies, and working with ATM vendors to make them safe from skimmers. We also work with the other banks and the NZ Police to identify offenders and take appropriate action," the spokesman said.
Williams said she got the impression Kiwibank had, or was still, tending to other incidents of card skimming: "They said their fraud team were trying to figure out where 'a person or people' and what ATMs they were targeting."
A local market which only accepted cash was held on the same day Williams had withdrawn money during her most recent visit to the BNZ ATM, and there had been a dozen people waiting in line to use the machine at that time.
"The ATM was really busy, there were a lot of people in front and behind of me so I'm not sure if they were affected in the same way - hopefully not."
Kiwibank communications manager Kara Tait was not able to provide figures on how many skimming incidents the bank had dealt with this year or last but said it had seen several cases like this in Auckland over recent months.
Tait said both ATMs and New Zealand bank cards had a range of features built into them to protect against skimming but technology and offenders kept adapting.
Detective Sergeant Bridget Doell of Auckland City Police's financial crime unit said Police urged people to inspect an ATM before using it to make sure it had not been tampered with in any way.
"Observe the ATM, if it doesn't seem right it probably isn't," Doell said. "Make sure a card slot is legitimate. Look for things that strike you as unusual.
"Police encourage everyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously around ATMs, either tampering with them or spending an excessive amount of time trying to use multiple cards, to notify bank staff or police immediately."
The New Zealand Banking Association would not comment on whether card skimming was on the rise in this country. It said it encouraged people to avoid disclosing their pin number when using ATMs and eftpos terminals.
"Cover up when entering your PIN so you don't reveal it to 'shoulder surfers' or hidden cameras. That's how fraudsters who have your card details can access your bank accounts."