The Botswana Police Service is considering giving up investigations of debit cards thefts, or card skimming, on the basis that no assistance is forthcoming from China.
If they abandon the investigation, this would mean that customers who were defrauded through the debit cards scam would most likely not be refunded or compensated.
The investigations started last year after some commercial banks were alerted to mysterious transactions that were carried out overseas in which large amounts of money were stolen through debit cards with the money later being transferred to China.
The outgoing detective in charge of the investigation, now Assistant Police Commissioner Victor Mabina, of Serious Crime Squad, told Sunday Standard that his office is considering giving up investigations following the theft of monies stolen from several local commercial banks through debit cards.
“Since the case was brought to us, we commenced our investigation but nothing is forth coming from our counterparts in China even though a communication was forwarded to them,” Mabina said.
He added that no arrests had been made so far and the money that was defrauded from the debit cards had not been recovered.
The Standard Chartered Bank, where about 18 customers were defrauded, was the first bank to report. Barclays Bank, on the other hand, reported over 20 cases of such criminal acts.
Card skimming basically involves criminal gangs using highly sophisticated electronic equipment to set up and operate accounts through ATMs.
The gangs rig the ATM by affixing a false card slot over the original card slot. A skimming device in that contraption slot captures card details from the magnetic strip and transmits that information wirelessly to the criminals who would be sitting in a parked car nearby.
The PIN number is stolen by way of a telescopic camera angled to view the monitor and keypad and transmit wireless photographs of ATM PIN entries.
This camera, which has its own battery and transmission antenna, can transmit up to 200 metres. Armed with this information, the skimmers are able to clone an exact replica of a customer’s card and use it to steal money from the account.