Bank cards crime soars

 Bank cards crime soars
Published: 29 October 2019
AS THE country's economic rot continues to deepen, police are warning the public about a sharp increase in crime relating to bank cards. This comes as Zimbabwe continues to experience serious shortages of cash, which have also seen a surge in unscrupulous dealers charging ordinary citizens a premium to convert their electronic money into cash.

Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, national police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said authorities had recorded alarming levels of card cloning, as well as fake messages to pensioners purportedly coming from banks  as crooks employ more sophisticated methods of duping the public.

"The problem of online banking scams has increased significantly in our country. In January we had 87 cases, February 85, March 87, April 75, May 50, June 43, July 57, August 64 and September 66.

"All in all, we have had a total of 614 cases of card cloning for the first nine months of the year," he said.

Nyathi also said daring thieves were using a variety of methods to access ATM cards — including acquiring individuals' banking details via fake messages, by pretending to be bank officials. At least 35 people had lost huge sums of money this way, ranging between $80 and $60 000.

The thieves' modus operandi is to send customers mobile messages purporting to be from their banks, demanding that they provide their banking details through the One Time Password (OTP) system.

"People are told to confirm their passwords to receive their pension or to access money that would have supposedly been deposited into their accounts.

"As a result of these schemes, people are losing huge sums of money. We have the case of a Bulawayo pensioner who lost $60 000.

"We also have another who lost $40 000 in Matabeleland South, another $42 000 in Bulawayo, while only last week another man from Victoria Falls lost $19 000 after he was sent a message asking him to activate his account.

"On the 15th of this month, another person from Harare lost $7 100. The person discovered that his card had been used in various parts of the country, including Kwekwe and Gweru," Nyathi said.

He said police were urging people to desist from responding to these mobile messages, but rather visit their banks and physically confirm the information that was being demanded. Nyathi also said banks should bar their employees from calling clients asking for their bank details over the phone, or via email.

"The OTP system also needs to be tightened, so that people will not take advantage of the electronic banking system  particularly the messaging system.

"Members of the public have to be very cautious when they receive anonymous calls or messages, particularly with issues to do with their banks.

"They should also work closely with their banks. As the police, we are engaging service providers to put safeguards that ensure people will not continuously lose their money," Nyathi added.

He also bemoaned the fact that many people were losing their money after sending others with their bank cards, who then disclosed their pin numbers.

In some instances, some people would send children to transact, who would then be forced by thieves to disclose pin numbers.
There were also unverified claims that card cloners were working with people within banks and commercial enterprises. Zimbabwe is in the grip of a huge economic crisis which has stirred anger and restlessness among long suffering citizens.

The ginormous crisis has also seen an upsurge in violent crime perpetrated by armed robbers who are targeting private homes and businesses in search of the much-coveted United States dollars.
- dailynews
Tags: Bank,


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