An internationally co-ordinated fraud attack involving forged bank cards used at ATMs in Japan has stripped Standard Bank of about R300-million.
Standard Bank and authorities remained mum on the progress of investigations and the whereabouts of the syndicate, as investors appeared largely unconcerned by the bank’s loss.
Spokesman Ross Linstrom of Standard Bank, which made just more than R22-billion in headline earnings across the group in 2015, said on Monday a sophisticated and co-ordinated syndicate had created a “small number of fictitious cards” and proceeded to draw a total amount of R300-million from ATMs in Japan.
He said investigations were at a sensitive stage, but that bank customers would suffer no adverse effects if their details had been stolen and used in the Japanese fraud.
Japanese media have reported that about 100 individuals hit 1 400 ATMs in just three hours on a day when banks are closed for business, with one withdrawal transaction at each ATM up to the daily limit amount set in Japan.
According to Japanese media, no arrests have been made and the individuals who made the withdrawals may no longer be in the country.
The fraud fits an international trend involving hit-and-run withdrawal schemes in which fraudsters may be jetting into countries in different time zones to buy themselves time to collect the cash and run.
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre confirmed the Standard Bank matter was under investigation, and CEO Kalyani Pillay said the local industry would provide full support to both the bank and law enforcement, where possible.
“The industry’s card losses for 2015 were in the region of R778-million across all card types for South African-issued cards.
“This was a 4% decrease compared to 2014. Banks have robust systems in place to monitor and detect fraud, but some risks lie with bank clients themselves,” Pillay says
Southern African Fraud Prevention Services executive director Manie van Schalkwyk said his organisation stops about R3-billion in fraud every year.
“Identity fraud is declining, and the main reason is the use of biometrics,” he says.
Van Schalkwyk said banks were making use of various databases and methods to try keep up with and combat such fraud, as criminals continued to evolve their modus operandi.
By Brendan Peacock for www.bdlive.co.za