What is “shoulder surfing”, a method used by bank card thieves?

The technique is not new, but it now has a name: “shoulder surfing”. Literally: to spy over the shoulder. This trick used by bands of thieves has been identified many times in the west of France in 2022. Particularly concerned, the department of Finistère has been the scene of several scams of this type, often to the detriment of the elderly. Sunday February 26, four individuals suspected of having defrauded several hundred people were arrested in a hotel in Brive-la-Gaillarde (Corrèze). The opportunity for the gendarmerie to warn of the dangers of the famous “shoulder surfing”.

Sometimes used to steal passwords, this technique consists of observing people’s bank card code by looking over their shoulder at the time of payment. According to the Finistère gendarmerie, thieves generally act within supermarkets. “They then discreetly steal the victims’ wallets. Afterwards, they use the victims’ cards to withdraw cash and make purchases, ”explain the investigators. The latter specify that it is often elderly people, less alert and less quick to spot suspicious behavior, who are targeted. The average age of the victims identified is 77 years old.

The technique used is far from amateur. According to investigators, the three women and the man arrested belong to an international Bosnian organized criminal group. They were arrested on Sunday by the gendarmes of the Central Office for the Fight against Itinerant Delinquency (OCLDI) and the Finistère departmental gendarmerie group while they were stopping in a hotel in Brive. Back from Spain, the four respondents were preparing to return beyond our borders to continue their flights there, always on the same operating mode. They have 12,000 euros on them, the equivalent of three days of “shoulder surfing”. According to the gendarmes, the total damage amounts at this stage to 153,000 euros in France alone. “The reconciliations make it possible to establish that acts are also committed in Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Croatia and Germany, testifying to the mobility of the organized group”.

Be careful to stay discreet

Aged 22 to 35, the four suspects are already known to the courts. They were placed under a warrant of committal pending their judgment in immediate appearance on April 7.

To avoid having your credit card code stolen, it is essential to ensure that no one is near you when you enter your confidential code. This warning is also valid for online payments. It is sometimes interesting to place your hand above the one composing the code.

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