Opinion: Phuket’s growing reputation for ATM fraud

PHUKET: The recent hacking of Government Savings Bank automatic teller machines (ATMs) nationwide raises a host of troubling questions. These relate not only to the identities and whereabouts of the thieves, but also to the general state of security for ATM users in Thailand, the repeated failure of immigration police to keep known foreign criminals from our shores, and the clique’s selection of Phuket as a base from which to operate.

Thai banking has certainly come a long way since ATM machines were first introduced here in the mid-80s. Older readers might remember just what a hassle banking was in the pre-ATM period. There were relatively few bank branches, and those that did exist were typically large and overrun with customers, all of whom had to place transaction slips into a large plastic box and wait for their name to be called.

Also sadly absent at most banks at the time was any queuing system, electronic or manual, with which to ensure that the ‘first-come, first served’ service policy that is now in effect at every bank, could be carried out. It was a good time to know the teller at your local bank.

Despite advances in electronic banking technology, hackers have always lurked on the fringes, ready to take advantage of security breaches.

It is, of course, easy to fall into a false sense of security after making hundreds of painless ATM transactions, but the Phuket Gazette encourages readers to observe all basic security protocols, especially since Phuket has an established and growing reputation for ATM fraud, with foreign residents and tourists often falling victim.

As for the ongoing investigation into the culprits behind this latest ATM scam, the fact that they have successfully exited the country with so much cash does not bode well for the prospects of their arrest. They may now be on some faraway beach sipping Mai Tais and chuckling under their breath as they read this.

We hope the police can do a better job at liaising with international crime-fighting agencies to arrest and extradite such thieves so they can be brought to justice.

At a minimum we hope they will direct more resources to keeping known international criminals off Thai soil, and fewer resources to creating ever more paperwork for long-time, law-abiding foreign residents.

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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