Bank card theft soars, Po­lice Min­is­ter ad­mits even she’s a vic­tim

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - ALEX WHITE

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.

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