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FBI says Mexico tourist destination ATMs vulnerable

Cancún, Q.R. — A recent anti-money laundering conference in Cancun has revealed the vulnerability of ATMs in tourist destinations of Mexico.

Corey Hubbert, Special Agent Supervisor of the Office of Federal Investigations (FBI) based out of Mexico City revealed cities such as Los Cabos, Acapulco, Cancun and Playa del Carmen, among other tourist destinations, are vulnerable to ATM hacking.

During the August 2 conference, Hubbert revealed that the FBI department of intelligence issued an alert two months ago about this vulnerability, which was transmitted to the Mexican Federal Police. He explained that ATMs are especially vulnerable because of the use of a Windows-based operating system, which is the target of the largest number of attacks worldwide.

The ATMs are used to clone cards and obtain financial information from tourists of all nationalities visiting Mexico throughout the year, he added. Although the intelligence alert only refers to Mexico, the agent mentioned that it’s likely this same vulnerability will be repeated in ATMs located in other countries throughout Latin America.

During his presentation, Corey Hubbert announced that every year 6.5 million new cyber viruses are created worldwide and that 1.5 out of every five adults internationally have been cyber crime victims.

One of the newest methods of fraud, he said, is e-mail spoofing which consists of checking the mailboxes of a particular user to detect banking transaction information. He mentioned that in the United States, the very wealthy have been violated through this method, but in Mexico, it is still not used.

Since 2015, computer security experts have unveiled a series of ATM frauds from Cancun to Tulum, where would-be thieves use Bluetooth technology to hack devices.

The machines affected included three hotels in Cancun, several ATMs on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen and three more on a pier in Cozumel. In all locations, the Free2Move signal was always emitted from the infected ATMs.