Banks in the United Arab Emirates have been hit by hackers who used counterfeit bank and credit cards to steal funds from customers' accounts.


None of the banks said how much money had been stolen or how many accounts had been affected, but an investigation revealed that cash machines were rigged with devices that stole customers' PINs as they made withdrawals.


HSBC, Citibank, Lloyds TSB, National Bank of Abu Dhabi and Emirates NBD have issued statements saying that the problem is under control, but some customers remain unconvinced and believe that the banks failed to protect them. Dubai Bank said that it had temporarily blocked international access to its cash machines after 42 of its customers' accounts were breached.


Suvo Sarkar, general manager of retail banking for Emirates NBD, one of the nation's largest lenders, said: “We don't really know how this happened.” He further claimed that the hackers were part of an international network, with most of the fraudulent transactions originating from more than 20 countries outside the UAE.


The banks have tried to prevent further losses by sending text messages encouraging customers to change their PINs and promising to reimburse any funds stolen.