Retailers are being warned to know their staff
Two senior police officers are among hundreds of people in Edinburgh and West Lothian who have been victims of a card cloning scam.
Lothian and Borders Police and several banks are investigating the withdrawal of money from the accounts overseas.
It is believed that hand-held chip and pin card machines are being targeted by the criminals.
Police are warning retailers to watch for bogus workers who could be fitting the machines with skimming devices.
A police spokesman said although money had been coming out of people's accounts during the last two weeks, their cards would have been scanned months ago.
He said: "The information has been obtained some time ago but is only being used now in Australia and Canada.
"People should not worry as banks are able to work out when and where the money is being obtained, but the inconvenience is quite considerable as people have to have their cards changed.
"Retailers need to be vigilant and I would ask them to know their customer, know their staff."
Mark Bowerman, spokesman for the bank trade association Apacs, agreed that hundreds of people could have been affected by the scam in the area.
"The fraudsters are copying the magnetic strip on the back of cards and then using mini cameras to gain pin numbers," he said.
He said they were then using the cloned strips overseas because they could not use them in the UK without also having a chip in the card.
"It would help the problem if we were to stop having the swipe strips on our cards as well, but they are there for when we go on holidays as many other countries don't use the chip system," he added.
"These organised gangs are either coercing shop workers with violence or bribes to install the devices, getting jobs for a few weeks there, or pretending to be engineers."