R800m stolen in SA bank account scams

Even card holders are not safe from fraudsters.
Even card holders are not safe from fraudsters.
Image: Marianne Pretorius

Almost R800-million was stolen from South African bank accounts last year - mostly by criminals fraudulently obtaining clients' card information.

This was revealed in the latest South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) report detailing bank card fraud for last year.

The report stated that of the R778.9-million stolen out of South African bank accounts last year, R436.7-million was stolen from credit cards and R342.2-million from debit cards.

Of this, R416-million was taken through various card-not-present (cnp) scams - a new emerging trend used by criminals to drain bank accounts.

Cnp fraud, which occurs mostly online, is when neither the card nor the cardholder is present for a transaction. These details are attained through various methods, including e-mail phishing scams and fake online websites.

The report highlighted cnp fraud as the most prevalent banking fraud currently used by syndicates.

Credit card holders lost R318.4-million last year through various cnp scams, while debit card holders lost R98-million in similar scams. Other losses were due to card skimming, lost or stolen cards, and when a legit user's account is hijacked by a criminal.

Of the R436-million stolen in credit card fraud, R233.3-million was stolen by syndicates operating outside South Africa, while R203.5-million was stolen within the country.

The provinces targeted by the credit card syndicates include Gauteng, where R99-million was stolen, followed by the Western Cape with R32.4-million, KwaZulu-Natal with R24.5-million and the Eastern Cape with R9-million.

Sabric lists the top five African countries complicit with credit card fraud transactions as Kenya, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique - which accumulatively involved almost R9-million.

The other cross-border countries implicated include Ireland, the US, Malta, the UK, China, Indonesia and India.

Figures, however, show that unlike most of the credit card fraud, debit card fraud happened mainly within South Africa.

Last year, R246-million was stolen from debit accounts in South Africa, while R95.5-million was stolen outside the country's borders.

Police spokeswoman Captain Sandra Janse van Rensburg said various cases involving banking fraud were reported.

"All forms of banking fraud is an ongoing issue. While there are several forms of banking fraud, the main types we have seen in the Bay are deposit and online phishing scams."

Janse van Rensburg said "several" cases were under investigation.

Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay said credit card-related cnp was listed as the leading contributor to fraud losses.

"Criminals always adjust their tactics to take advantage of innovations in the banking landscape. However, our collaborative model ensures that we, and our banks and partners, are responsive and agile, enabling these crimes to be addressed efficiently and effectively," he said.

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