Businesses nationwide are being warned about criminal activity targeting EFTPOS machines, which has resulted in at least $10,000 being stolen.
Two men have been charged and another two have been arrested in Perth, but WA Police believe more people are part of the organised crime syndicate.
Detective Sergeant Jamie Hutcheson from the Financial Crimes Squad said offenders had targeted businesses in several Perth suburbs, including Dianella, Duncraig, Perth and Leederville.
“The offenders — usually two or more people — go into a business and they will distract a staff member, and then they’ll steal an EFTPOS machine, and they’ll replace it with a compromised machine,” he said.
The offenders then conduct refunds of the transactions, transferring the money into their own accounts, before moving to another business and swapping the stolen machine with the next company’s machine.
“[The] business is unable to determine if the machine’s been taken because there’s one [that’s] been replaced, and they usually don’t find out until the end of the day when they do their end-of-day returns.
“Usually, those machines either won’t work or they’ll have to be reset, but then when they’re doing the end-of-day returns, the machines are showing up with a different business name.”
Scam likely to be national
Detective Sergeant Hutcheson said the crimes were not isolated to WA, because one of the devices recovered had been identified as from South Australia.
“We believe it’s definitely Australia-wide,” he said.
“We’ve been liaising with our counterparts in the eastern states, and we believe there is offending occurring across all states of Australia.”
Authorities are urging businesses to be vigilant and not to leave EFTPOS machines unattended.
Detective Sergeant Hutcheson said staff should also check their business name appeared on EFTPOS receipts as an added precaution.
Two men charged with stealing, property laundering
On June 1, Australian Federal Police arrested two men at Perth Airport attempting to travel to Queensland, charging the men with purchasing airline tickets using false identification.
Two EFTPOS devices were found during a luggage search.
A man, 18, from South Australia has been charged with four counts of stealing, 15 counts of property laundering and two counts of possession of stolen or unlawfully obtained property.
A Queensland man, 24, has been charged with four counts of stealing and 15 counts of property laundering.
The men, who appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court earlier this week, were refused bail and are due to reappear on June 17.
Two other males were arrested on Friday after police attended a business in Joondalup.
One of the males was arrested at the scene, while the second was arrested after a short foot chase.
Both were taken to Joondalup Police Station.