Sussex Police has revealed that three victims reported how their cards were swallowed by ATM machines at Sainsbury’s stores in the city centre.
"They were told by suspects standing behind them to speak to managers inside the shops, while the suspects then removed a device on the machine and took the cards," a police spokesperson said.
The first reported incident took place at 3.45pm on August 10 at the Sainsbury’s Local store in Old Steine.
Police said the victim said a suspect stood behind him as he entered his PIN number. The machine did not return his card and the man told him to report it to the manager inside.
Sums of money were then taken from a cash machine at Lloyds Bank in North Street, police said. A mobile phone was also purchased in a nearby phone shop, whose owner 'agreed to refund the victim'.
The suspect is described as a short man of Middle Eastern appearance, 5ft 6in with black hair.
The second incident was reported to the police on August 15 at the Sainsbury’s in Old Steine at 11.55am.
Police said a woman was told to speak to a store manager. Inside the store she was advised by a manager to put a stop on her card.
Two men outside were seen taking her card and walking away, police said.
The third incident, at 8.45am on August 18, took place at the Sainsbury’s store in Preston Road. Police said the victim noted a message on screen warning her the machine was broken and someone was on their way to fix it.
After she left, funds were taken from her account. Two men stood behind the victim, and are described as white men in their mid 30s, who were wearing baseball caps.
Detective Sergeant Hannah Rayner said the incidents may be linked, adding that there have also been reports of other ATM machines in Brighton and Hove being tampered with.
Det Sgt Rayner said: “We are appealing for witnesses, anyone with information, or anyone who thinks they may have been a victim to come forward.
“You can report information about these incidents to us online here or call 101 and quote serial 1028 of 11/08.”
Det Sgt Rayner added: “There are some tell-tale signs of ATM fraud, which include looking out for any sign of suspect devices on the outside of cash machines.
“Some are more obvious than others. If you do see something suspicious contact the police and the bank.
“Remember, if it doesn’t look or feel right then steer clear and, if possible, go inside the bank where it will be safer. And always keep a regular check on your transactions.”
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