Hackers prep for credit card scam in UK supermarkets

Hackers have been preparing for a large scam using cloned US credit cards in British supermarkets.

Cyber criminals have been planning to conduct a sophisticated scam that involves using cloned US credit cards to target self-checkouts in British supermarkets.

The criminals have been plotting to clone magnetic stripes to create cards, and then use these cloned cards to loot US bank accounts at British checkouts, BBC reports.

In online forums, the thieves discussed how to use self-service tills, in particular in Asda and Tesco, to conduct transactions without being watched by a cashier. But the supermarkets told the BBC that there was little chance the criminals would make significant gains.

Andrew Moloney, a security expert at software supplier RSA, said cloning the magnetic stripe on the card is "one of the simplest ways to commit fraud."

"There's no pin involved, it's not encrypted, and the hardware for doing it is readily and legally available. It's essentially the same hardware you'd use when making a membership card," he said.

Unlike the UK chip and pin system, US credit cards only require a signature for transactions. In the planned scam, the fraudster would create cloned cards, therefore could create any signature they wish.

But the criminals' plan may have been flawed because self service tills in many supermarkets will not accept transactions without a pin being entered, according to a Tesco spokesperson. Tesco also said a member of staff would have to approve a signature. Asda could not be reached for immediate comment on its authorization controls.

Even the pin identification system is not completely safe, according to Eric Domage, manager of western European security research at analyst house IDC. In one instance in Paris, he said, criminals were placing fake cash machines on the front of real machines, capturing the cards and pin numbers, and then taking the cards round the corner to spend thousands of euros.

But criminals using cloned cards are also taking a risk, Domage said. "People doing this will be caught easily on camera when they use the self service tills."

Also many cloned cards could lack proper bank imagery or logos, which presents a major problem for the fraudsters, Moloney at RSA explained. "The card has to look credible, and often cloned cards are blank. By checking, the supermarkets would reduce the chance of this type of fraud."

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Leo King

Computerworld UK
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?