Gang Used 3-D Printer to Steal $400,000 from Bank Customers
Criminals have begun harnessing 3-D printer technology for a much darker purpose than just creating chocolate sculptures or artificial blood cells based on two dimensional computer images. One gang used a printer to help steal $400,000 from bank customers by making perfect replicas of ATM card skimmers.
Luckily, the gang's crime spree ended when the U.S. Secret Service used an undercover informant to bust the ring wide open this summer, according to KrebsonSecurity. But the incident suggests that the criminal world has awakened to the possibilities of how 3-D printing can make a wide array of 3-D objects for good or ill.
Federal court documents reveal how the gang invested in a high quality 3-D printer costing anywhere from $10,000 - $20,000 to replicate any ATM's credit card slot. By comparison, a typical skimmer kit fitted to just one ATM model can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.
Skimmers include a card skimmer to steal data stored on a card's magnetic stripe, as well as a pinhole camera that can be fitted near the PIN pad. Skimmer components that don't fit well are more likely to be discovered by customers or the bank, Krebs explained. That makes the precision of 3-D printing even more important in cases such as these.
The gang made bank by fitting the homemade skimmers onto ATMs. The skimmers recorded bank customer data and passed it on wirelessly to a laptop used by gang members sitting in a nearby car.
Such abuses of 3-D printing won't go away anytime soon. One 3-D printer manufacturer, called i.materialise, previously denied a customer request to make a card skimmer. But i.materialise told Krebs that people are still finding its company blog with the online search keywords "I want to buy an ATM skimming device."