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Crime syndicates are also ready for festive season

Crime syndicates are also ready for festive season.
Crime syndicates are also ready for festive season.

Millions around the globe observe Christmas season because it's a feel-good holiday time, with music filling the air and brightly decorated trees surrounding us.

Every year this period is always paradoxically punctuated with both chucklesome and horrific incidents.

Though we may be excited to experience the sights, sounds and smell of Christmas, holiday season is always flooded by criminal masterminds who swoop on unsuspecting individuals using new technologies to beat ever-more sophisticated defences.

The disturbing visuals that were recently shown on social media of an of ATM bombing in Mpumalanga and the shocking VBS Mutual Bank heist scandal serve as a stark reminder of how sophisticated bank scammers by pass and evade bank controls.

As we know, these crime syndicates are highly organised and ruthless, targeting incautious bank consumers, often using our country as a transit point for a host of horrific criminal activities.

A friend of mine shared a very horrendous story on how these bank swindlers devoured his money through credit card fraud at one of banks he used in Durban CBD.

The incident occurred over a weekend, surprisingly he was never apprised by his bank of any irregular activity on his credit card. He was only notified after thousands of rands had already been stolen.

These opportunists are at their smartest at this time of the year.

The figures that were released by South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) stated that fraudsters swiped a massive R436,7m in the past year from stollen credit cards, should ring alarm bells.

We need to ensure that our law enforcement agencies have requisite skills to deal with bank fraud cases on the one hand, while on other give a fresh look at the banking system that seem to be rather ineffective to combat corruption and fraud.

The sad fact that we still remain victims of fraudulent ATM transactions calls for efforts to be made in ensuring that our personal bank information is protected and managed in a more secure way.

This means that banks should change the current identity and authentication system to a more secure and integrated anti-crime banking system.

These banks have no choice but to adopt a cardless cash biometric ATM system (BioATM) as one of the advanced technological systems that provide high security for consumers' information and prevents ATM tricksters from unauthorised access.

What is fascinating about this system is that it is not only designed for use with our eyes, thumbs, fingerprints, among others, when we make cash withdrawals, but also manufactured to talk to us in our own indigenous languages to maintain authenticity of our personal information and integrity of financial institutions.

BioATM use is becoming increasingly favoured, with developing countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Turkey, and India having converted to using biometric technology instead of the existing card-based ATMs as
their main security and authentication feature. The burning question remains; why SA doesn't follow suit?

- Stanley Ncobela is lecturer and columnist

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