Retailers in the south of England were scammed out of £38,000 in a racket that could have been prevented by stricter Chip & PIN usage.
A gang targeted a range of Iceland and Southern Co-op and Co-operative Group stores in Farnborough, Aldershot, Fleet, Farnham, Ash and other parts of Hampshire. They used nine Barclays credit and debit cards to make regular transactions by signature.
The scam included the gang bribing young cashiers with money in exchange for letting them make regular cashback withdrawals.
Iceland said the affected stores already had Chip & PIN installed. Some of the Southern Co-op and Co-operative Group stores did not. The criminals took advantage of the fact that customers can still sign for goods instead of inputting their PIN at many stores.
A spokeswoman for APACS, the trade association for credit companies, said: “Some versions of Chip & PIN allow retailers to accept signatures. Retailers will always want the option of not requiring the PIN from customers to save them from embarrassment.”
She said that the risk of retailers being hit by card scams would continue until Chip & PIN technology was more widely accepted and retailers refused requests to sign.
No date has yet been set after which the use of the PIN will be compulsory.