A man who foiled a would-be scam on a Chichester cash machine has told of his terror as he waited for police to arrive.
Alan Gibbs was using the cashpoint at the HSBC branch on East Street on Monday, January 2, when he spotted a skimming device attached to the front.
The plastic device, which was 25cm wide, is painted to mimic the front of the cash machine – but it can read card details, allowing criminals to commit identity theft.
Mr Gibbs, 43, from Hampshire, said he recognised the device after watching programmes about UK customs searches: “If you didn’t know what you were looking for, you would miss it.”
He had withdrawn his cash at about 11am when he realised cards being put in the machine were being skimmed.
He told the Observer: “I grasped hold of the skimming device and my first reaction was to rip it off so nobody got their cards done.”
He pocketed the piece of plastic while his fiancee Lisa Dogan called the police, who had to race to the scene from Selsey. As he waited, the seriousness of the situation began to dawn on him.
“Then I started thinking, ‘If that device was being watched and I have got it, I could be a target. I could be knifed just so they could get their information off me’. Everybody that was walking my way was a potential threat and I started to really panic.
“I don’t know how many cards had been read on there; there could have been thousands of pounds’ worth.”
Ms Dogan was full of praise for her brave beau and his quick-thinking actions.
“I am very proud of him – I think it was quite a courageous thing to do, especially these days as we know only too well that a lot of these things happen in gangs.
“I feel he put his life on the line to save a lot of people from having their accounts hacked into.”
A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said police had taken the device away ‘for further examination’.
A spokeswoman for HSBC Bank said staff at the branch were unaware of the potential crime, but she warned customers to be vigilant and report anything suspicious to the police.