FRAUDSTERS are targeting cashpoints in a new type of scam that has conned unsuspecting victims.
Fraudsters are attaching a grey metal strip in front of the slot where notes are dispensed from cash machines.
Customers use the machine as normal and hear the mechanism whirring.
But when no cash appears, they assume the machine is faulty or empty and their accounts have not been charged.
In fact the money has been dispensed and has become stuck to adhesive strips on the back of the devices.
Thieves simply come along and remove the device to take the cash before moving on to a difference machine.
Although cashpoint scams have been reported in Portsmouth before, this is the first time police have seen this sort of device used in the city.
Police say 10 crimes of this nature have been reported across Portsmouth in the last month alone. But the real figure could be far higher as some people may not know they have been conned.
Machines affected include cashpoints at Barclays bank in London Road, North End, Co-op shops and at the Post Office in Slindon Street, Landport – but there could be more.
It is not yet known how much cash has been stolen in the scam.
Detective Sergeant Tina Lowe from Fratton CID said: ‘We have had a variety of different types of [cashpoint] tampering reports in Portsmouth before but nothing the same as this.
‘This particular series we are having we don’t think we have had before in Portsmouth.’
Now police are urging people to take extra care when using cashpoints and check them before using them.
Anyone who recently tried to take cash out but did not receive their money is asked to check their bank statement and contact their bank and police if they notice anything suspicious.
Detective Constable Pete Bambury from Fratton CID said: ‘This scam is unfortunately very simple and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be effective.
He added: ‘If [a cash dispenser] appears to have an unusual-looking metal strip, do not use the cashpoint and inform both the bank and the police.
‘Under no circumstances should you attempt to remove the device yourself.
‘If you attempted to use a cashpoint in the area recently and no cash came out, I would urge you to check your bank statement.
‘This will confirm whether cash was withdrawn or not, and if it was withdrawn, I advise that you inform your bank and the police immediately.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact Fratton CID on 101.
Alternatively call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.