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Bank card scam: they exchange merchants’ TPEs and pocket all the proceeds

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This new credit card scam, more particularly at TPEs, “payment terminals”, has been raging in the south-east of France since the beginning of June. The main victims are restaurant owners. In Cannes, the damage already amounts to several tens of thousands of euros.

The restaurants in Cannes saw nothing coming back… The scam even lasted two weeks for Morrison’s Lounge! “I was convinced that it was a technical problem, that it was a bad connection problem. I never would have imagined this kind of scam” explains the boss, Jean-Pierre Guillory, at the microphone of France 3 Provence -Alpes-Cote d’Azur. For two weeks, no payment by credit card arrived in his cash register. The fault of a rather simple but difficult to detect TPE scam.

TPE stolen and replaced

The thieves’ technique is very simple: they just exchange the TPEs. After scouting to identify the model of terminal used by the trader, the thieves expect exactly the same model. The latter is then programmed to send bank payments directly to the scammer’s account. Once the right model has been prepared and programmed, a simple game of sleight of hand is enough to rob traders. At the time of the addition, a moment of inattention and the scammer takes the opportunity to steal the TPE and replace it with his own. Jean-Pierre Guillory, manager of Morrison’s and 3 other establishments in Cannes, describes the process to BFMTV.

“He comes with this machine in his bag. He asks to pay by credit card. When we give him our credit card machine, he takes advantage of a moment of inadvertence from the bartender and he makes a standard exchange. He leaves his machine with his SIM card and he leaves with our machine. From there, all credit cards are credited to his account.”

The technique is not only rampant in the south of France. In Paris, similar scams have been observed and the Parisian in 2019 already warned of the resurgence of scams to TPE.

How to protect yourself from scams?

To guard against these scams, it is easy to personalize your TPE. Using stickers, stickers, placed on the back of your machine or on one side, you can quickly and easily recognize your terminal. You can also keep it in your hand throughout the transaction.

Alain Lahouti, the president of the UMIH 06 HCR Restaurateurs Cannes union, advises to “systematically check the ticket that comes out of your TPE device”. The goal is to “ensure that it is indeed the device of your establishment where the specificities of your company are mentioned.” It must also be done on each customer ticket. Jean-Pierre Guillory specifies this because on the general ticket released at the end of the service, called remote collection, there are no details on the company that receives the funds paid.


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