It seems too simple to be true but two design engineers atthe University of Warwick have devised a simple 250 pounds plasticshield that could play a significant role in eliminating the cardskimming cash machine fraud that costs banks tens of millions of pounds.
Fallingtechnology cost and increasing technical sophistication of fraudstershave led to a boom in the criminal use of hidden cameras and card"skimming" devices being secreted on ATMs (cash machines) allowingfraudsters to obtain the electronic details and matching numbers ofcash cards. Tens of millions of pounds are lost each year from the UK'snetwork of 57,000 cash machines to this type of fraud. The banks haveresponded with a number of hi tech solutions to the problem usingexpensive convoluted solutions to try and disrupt the illegal camerasand skimmers but this simple University of Warwick design provides amuch simpler cheaper and effective solution to the problem.
Thetwo design engineers Kevin Pearson and Mark Rushton for the Universityof Warwick's Warwick Manufacturing Group, have devised a transparentplastic shield that can be securely retrofitted to existing ATMs orbuilt-in to the design of future ATMs. Any attempt to attach a nontransparent device such as a camera or skimmer on top of the shieldthen becomes impossible without being obvious to ATM users. It is alsoimpossible to place a second fake shield on top of the first as theshield is positioned at a distance from the ATM card slot that justbefore the limit that the slot will accept and draw in the card. If thedistance to the slot was increased any further the slot will not beable to draw in the card.
The Warwick design team have patentedtheir design. They have also won 10,000 pounds worth of developmentfunding from the "Mercia Spinner" (an initiative run by the Universityof Warwick's Warwick ventures department and funded by Advantage WestMidlands) designed to create technology based "spin out" companies.
Thishas allowed them to produce some small scale models of the shield butthey now face a problem. They would like to produce a full scale modelof the shield made exactly to the measurements of the most ATMs forfurther testing but they can't get the exact dimensions of an ATMwithout going up to an actual machine and measuring it up - which willnaturally draw suspicion that they themselves are engaged in some sortof fraudulent enterprise. Hopefully one of the banks or ATMmanufacturers will see the potential of working with them to helpdevise a full prototype before the designers have to risk arrest?
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