“That friendly tap on the shoulder as you’re at the ATM machine may not be all it seems.”
We are sitting around a small office desk and Rutang Moses is unpacking one of the simplest ATM card scams.
“A crook simply looks over an ATM machine user’s shoulder as they key in their PIN number, then steals the card using distraction techniques or pick-pocketing,” she says.
The Standard Chartered Bank Head of Compliance and Assurance starts reeling off strange words like “pharming” and “phishing” as she explains that ATM card fraud is only one weapon in the crooks’ artillery. A new generation of online fraudsters has spawned a whole new language. Along with the strange terminology, it seems their illicit business could be booming.
“The internet is a great tool which can really change people’s lives for the better, and make most services easily accessible such as online banking which enables customers to transact on a secure website operated by their bank. We recognize the critical need to have controls and measures to protect our customers against internet fraud that can lead to financial losses,” says Moses.
The cost of cybercrime attacks around the world runs into tens of billions of dollars every year ÔÇô it is the fastest growing sector of criminal syndicates. With South Africa hosting the World Cup competitions, the cat and mouse game between international law enforcers and technology-savvy criminals is playing out on our doorsteps. For regional bankers, like Moses, who are at the forefront of ensuring the safety of customers’ funds, the stakes are high, even dire.
International financial watchdogs have warned that the World Cup could leave banks struggling to protect themselves and their customers against card fraud, as a surge in unusual transactions throws off risk scoring mechanisms, claimed vendor Actimize.
Industry data indicates that attacks increased sharply when FIFA World Cup final initial match-ups were announced, part of a trend whereby banks have seen sharp increases in fraud before and during events, including the last World Cup and Beijing Olympics. Banks typically struggle to identify the fraudulent transactions associated with international sports events, because of the statistical ”noise” generated by large numbers of unusual transactions and online activity.
“Because of the increased volume of amateurish ‘noise’ created by opportunists, many of the phishing emails created by organized criminals look incredibly professional,” said Jackie Barwell, manager for financial crime products at Actimize. ”These more professional schemes will direct unsuspecting victims to convincing Web pages asking for credit card details or online banking log-ins,” says Barwell. “Credit card and ATM card scams, including skimming, are on the rise as well.”
Barwell notes that banks are often poor at spotting fraud in real time, particularly when risk-scoring mechanisms are “thrown” by one-off events that result in large numbers of unusual transactions across different channels, such as football fans travelling overseas for the World Cup.
Apparently alert to the risk, Standard Charted Bank of Botswana has been conducting a month long anti-fraud campaign which coincided with the World Cup. Moses also ran a month long column in the Sunday Standard warning customers against card fraud and phishing.
In an interview last week, she however insisted that the campaign and the column had nothing to do with the World Cup.
“It was just a coincidence,” she said.
Moses emphasised that “we take the security of our customers’ funds very seriously. We have controls and measures in place to ensure that our customers’ funds are safe, and we are confident that these controls work.”
She told Sunday Standard that the campaign was aimed at educating customers, to ensure that they are always on guard and do not create conditions that are ideal for crooks to work their card tricks.
“The campaign demonstrated our commitment to tackling financial crime, building on the success we have had so far in significantly reducing fraud losses and improving our internal control environment.”
Moses was appointed to head the Compliance and Assurance of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana in April 2008 after spending eight years in various global leadership roles at Standard Charted Bank PCL in London, UK, since September 2000.
At Standard Chartered Bank PLC, London, Moses held a wide range of roles, among them Group Head of Corporate Brand Sponsorships, Director Global Corporate Responsibilities for UK/Europe and Turkey corporate clients, Global Head of Graduate Recruitment & Development, and Manager, Group HR Re-engineering Project.
Prior to her assignments in London, Moses was head of Human Resources of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana where she also held other generalist HR roles since 1997. She holds a Masters of Science in Industrial and Labour Relations from University of New Haven, USA and a Bachelor of Arts.