Dundee school forced to act after pupils ‘hack’ into lunch money accounts

Pupils at the school on Perth Road.

A Dundee school has changed its payment system for school lunches after a pupil had his account “hacked” and £40 stolen.

Children at Harris Academy in Perth Road are issued with a contactless card to use in the canteen instead of cash.

The cards are topped up and pupils are not issued with the PIN for the card, as it is given only when a child loses the card.

However, one pupil’s mum claims that students were “trying their luck” using random PINs and trying to pay for things with other people’s credit.

The mother told the Tele the money was spent on a day her son was absent and she warned that the same fraud may be being committed at other schools across the city.

The city council said that the school had “strengthened the system” in operation to avoid it happening again.

The parent, who asked not to be named, said: “Apparently, some kids randomly enter digits into the machine and sometimes they get lucky and access an account with a balance.

“They buy things and enter that PIN. The schools aren’t informing parents and I want them to know their money isn’t safe.

“They have reimbursed me £30, but I reckon it was about £40 that was used fraudulently.

“They all get a card which has a PIN already activated. If they lose or forget the card, they get the PIN from the office.

“A card can be used without the PIN and the PIN can be used without the card. The school admits my son’s card was used fraudulently.

“It was used when he was off sick to buy 19 items over five transactions.”

The concerned mother said staff at the school told her they were aware of “only one other case” where money had been taken.

However, she added: “We only noticed because my son takes a packed lunch.

“I imagine there will be many parents who don’t notice money going missing, especially if it’s just the odd 50p or £1.”

A council spokesman said: “An issue was identified about the use of PINs in the school dining hall.

“The school has taken the appropriate action over an individual case and is now taking steps to strengthen the system that is in operation.

“Pupils are regularly reminded about their responsibilities around issues such as this.”