A COUPLE say they have fallen foul of a cash card scam which left them hundreds of pounds out of pocket.
Bev and Rob Coulson fear they are just one of a string of other victims who have been targeted at various ATM machines around Hartlepool.
The couple checked their joint bank account statement online and were shocked to see 10 £60 transactions carried out at a casino in Cambodia between April 10-15.
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It follows reports last week on social networking sites that seven Hartlepool cash machines had been rigged with scanning devices which copy people’s bank details and PIN numbers.
But police had said the problem was not widespread, with only one report about money being taken from an account a month ago.
Now officers say Bev, a cover supervisor at St Hild’s CE School, in Hartlepool, and Rob are the only other report of card fraud they have received.
Rob said the couple have only just realised the money had been taken after checking their online statement following a week’s holiday in Turkey.
He said: “We had heard about this rumour by word of mouth, checked our statement and saw 10 transactions of £60 in a currency we didn’t recognise.”
Bev, 32, who is mum to Leah, seven, and three-year-old Robert, said: “I had a few texts last week warning me about this cashpoint scam, but I thought it all only happened last week, not in previous weeks.
“I just think the people who have done this are sick.
“The victim could have been an elderly person or someone who doesn’t have online banking and won’t get statements for a month.
“I’m shocked by it and haven’t used a cashpoint since.”
The couple, who live in Hutton Henry, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, rang their bank, Halifax, explained what had happened and told the bank about the internet rumours.
They were told to destroy their card and were refunded their money.
Consultant engineer Rob said: “Other people haven’t been so fortunate.
“I use online banking but someone with a paper statement once a month won’t know money has been taken out until later.”
The 38-year-old added: “It has been very stressful for us.
“We are a relatively young couple but we are concerned for people in their 70s and 80s, it could be detrimental to their health.”
He added that the transactions seemed to stop after three or four days, and he had heard that the scammers often do this as they expect the card to be blocked once the owner becomes aware.
Rob advised people to check their accounts as soon as possible and in particular to look out for any foreign currency transactions or check to see if their balance appears lower than it should be.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “This appears to be the only call we have received this month reporting bank fraud.
“We are investigating but are advising people to contact their banks in the first instance if they are concerned.”
Anyone who suspects they have been targeted is urged to contact PC Anthony Wallace, of Hartlepool Police, on 101.