Bank card theft soars, Police Minister admits even she’s a victim
THIEVES are making off with $450 million in card and tap-and-go fraud every year, and Victoria Police admits it would drown in a tsunami of crime if everyone reported the offence.
Top fraud investigator Superintendent Pat Boyle said thousands of cases of deception and fraud were not being reported.
Paywave and card identity crime is so prevalent that police have even admitted they do not know the true extent of the problem, as banks and their customers rarely notify authorities.
In the past financial year, crooks got more than $400 million through fraudulent use of debit and credit cards, while tap-and-go crime hit nearly $40 million.
The Sunday Herald Sun can reveal that even Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville does not believe the crime is worth reporting to police.
Thieves cloned her card while she was overseas, racking up $1000 at sports stores in under 90 minutes, but she did not report it.
“I did not report it. Police are not in a position to stop and investigate this type of crime,” Ms Neville said of the incident, which occurred last year. “The bank dealt with it and refunded it pretty quickly.
“Victorians like tap-and-go for its convenience, but we all have a responsibility around this type of cyber crime. I think there is room to think about whether convenience outweighs some risks.”
Authorities, including Ms Neville, were wary of urging customers to report the crime, aware that would drain police resources and have an impact on state crime statistics.
In Australia in the previous financial year, crooks nabbed $34 million from lost or stolen cards and $8 million from cards intercepted in the mail, according to the Australian Payments Network. Abuse of card and account details accrued $401 million in losses.
Banks were unwilling to comment on the issue and were regularly crediting customer accounts with no legal action or investigations.
Supt Boyle said card and bank account fraud would be a “tsunami” that would drown Victoria Police if every offence was reported.
“The crooks know that the only way they are getting caught is if the bank reports it to us or if we catch them. There is a loss for the banks, but they refund it,” he said.
“Across the country there is quite a number of incidents happening. I can’t tell you how many because we don’t know.”
Supt Boyle said he would not call for banks to lower the current $100 limit on tap-andgo payments, preferring verification being required for every third transaction.
Stolen cards and account details have become a currency for Victorian crooks, who use them to buy drugs and weapons on the black market.
“Friendly fraud” — when someone spends their own money but reports their card as stolen — is also on the rise.
Australian Payments Network chief Dr Leila Fourie said fraud made up only 2 per cent of total transactions. “The industry works actively to combat fraud,” she said.