Criminals using a technique called cash trapping have contributed to a 69% increase in European ATM fraud attacks, a new report reveals.

Cash trapping attacks occur when fraudsters prevent cash from being dispensed during an ATM transaction. The criminals then remove the cash when the consumer leaves the machine, according to the European ATM Security Team.

The organization on Oct. 18 published its bi-annual European ATM security report and found total fraud incidents increased 68.7%, to 11,220 in the first six months of 2011 compared with 6,649 during the same period last year.

Some 6,756 of this year’s incidents were the result of cash trapping.

“While there has been a significant surge in cash-trapping activity, related losses were less than $782,770, or just 0.4% of total reported fraud-related losses,” Lachlan Gunn, the organization’s director and coordinator, wrote in the report.

Cash-trapping attacks increased as European ATM deployers and bankcard issuers focused on reducing card skimming, Gunn wrote.

Card-skimming incidents decreased 32.7%, to 3,863 from 5,743 in the first half of 2010, according to the report. The organization notes EMV cards with a magnetic stripe are more vulnerable to card skimming.

Physical attacks on ATMs, which include machine vandalism and theft, decreased 21.2%, to 857 incidents from 1,087 in the first half of 2010. The organization notes, however, the number of attacks involving explosives and gas increased 90.4%, to 219 from 115.

Total reported losses from fraud attacks decreased 22.2%, to 112 million euros from 144 million euros in the first half of 2010.

Total reported losses from physical attacks also decreased 12.5%, to 14 million euros from 16 million euros.

Some 77% of losses related to card-skimming attacks continue to be international with most incidents occurring outside of Europe.

Criminal use of counterfeit EMV cards to withdraw cash from ATMs in countries that are not EMV compliant is leading some European card issuers to implement additional security measures such as regional card blocking, the report says.

The organization estimates 394,296 ATMs in Europe are EMV compliant, which is 98% of the 403,369-machine total. Bulgaria, Cyprus, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Malta, Spain and Poland have less than 100% ATM EMV compliance.

France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom deploy a combined 282,383 machines, representing 70% of the European total.