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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Banks reject Carlisle man's ATM anti-skimming invention

A former security guard has come up with a fraud-busting device he believes could stamp out cash machine scams – now he just needs to persuade the banks and find a financial backer.

Ian Harding photo
Ian Harding with his device

Ian Harding first constructed the FDS (fraud detection system) in the shed of his Granville Road home in Carlisle.

The 42-year-old was inspired to invent the device after a spate of so-called ‘skimming’ incidents in Carlisle.

The scam involves criminals placing card-reading devices and cameras on cash machines and recording people’s details. The unwitting victims then have their accounts emptied.

Mr Harding’s device detects when bugs are placed on an ATM machine and sends a text message alert to the bank, the police or a monitoring service.

It could also be adapted to shut down the ATM, sound an alarm or spray dye on the fraudster.

Mr Harding has had the technology patented and has offered it to banks and building societies, but none have so far taken it up.

He has a manufacturer lined up to mass produce the device, but needs a cash injection to get the project rolling.

“I was a loss prevention manager at Debenhams and BHS and lead guard at Wilkinson; my colleagues were the police.

“When the first machine got scammed in The Lanes I got talking with them about what the criminals were using and we were discussing what you needed to combat it.

“When I started researching the extent of the problem, I couldn’t believe banks were just paying out on these losses and not trying to fight the crime. It’s £35m a year they are losing, but more importantly people’s confidence in ATMs is being eroded – my mother-in-law is scared to use them now.

“You have to wonder what this £35m a year is going to support. It’s organised crime and this money will be funding all sorts of undesirable things. If the banks don’t want to save themselves the money then surely they should be acting to protect their customers’ interests.”

The idea has been met with indifference in the industry.

“The ATM manufacturers and the banks and building societies just won’t talk to you about their security measures, which I suppose is understandable,” said Mr Harding.

“All I need is for one bank to trial it and prove how successful it can be.

“I’m not doing it for the money, I just want the crime to stop.

“I got in touch with a company in Crewe which said it was a fantastic product and was keen to make it, but they want to go 60/40 with me.

“I just don’t have the capital to put in; I’m on minimum wage.

“It would be nice to think a Cumbrian person could come in on this and get it off the ground.

“The world is moving away from cash to plastic with self-service machines at supermarkets and petrol stations so the opportunities for fraudsters are increasing.

“Honest people need to be able to fight back against it.

“I’ve had good support from Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and was given a business mentor, but unfortunately that position has now been scrapped.

“I feel like all I’m doing is talking about it and meanwhile the crime is still going on.

“I just want to get this going so we can stop these people doing this.”

Mr Harding can be contacted on 07775 665012.

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