Thieves use iPod nano to try and steal cash from ATM

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Would Apple be more upset at the use of its products in a crime, or the general shoddiness of the execution? Photo:
Would Apple be more upset at the use of its products in a crime, or the general shoddiness of the execution? Photo:Greater Manchester Police

Looking for a use for that old iPod nano you’ve got lying around the house, gathering dust? Why not become a credit card thief?

Okay, so that’s probably the worst piece of advice you’ve received today, but it was still good enough for a pair of ne’er-do-wells from Stockport, England.

Using an iPod nano, a bit of duct tape, and a plastic contraption which attaches to the card slot of ATMs, the duo discovered a way to record videos of people entering their PIN numbers to withdraw money — using Apple’s one-time music players as a makeshift spy camera.

The small piece of plastic was used to stop the cash cards from being ejected. When the card owners left the ATM, the thieves would then manually retrieve the cards, and look up the pin numbers using the iPod nano.

While the criminals get a few points for using an Apple device in their plan, they lose them again for the overall lack of sophistication. As the UK’s Telegraph newspaper notes, “There have been instances where the skimmer hardware used wireless transmission to beam that data back to a hidden criminal, thereby minimising the risk of capture. Some have even been built with a mobile phone inside, so they can SMS details to a thief remotely.”

These thieves didn’t do so well, which is why cops gave them the rather sad appraisal: “To be honest, [this is] not the best attempt we have seen.”

Apple devices have previously been linked to crime — although this has normally been because they were being stolen, rather than used to steal. Spikes in crime rate have been linked to the arrival of hot new Apple devices, although much of this has been solved by the advent of technologies like iOS’s Activation Lock.

As the thieves in Stockport, England are sure to find out sooner rather than later: Crime Doesn’t (Apple) Pay.