Talk of the Town

Eastern Cape banks hit the hardest by robberies: report

- ToTT reporter

The South African Banking Risk Informatio­n Centre (Sabric) has released its annual crime statistics for 2021on behalf of the banking industry, with the inclusion of applicatio­n fraud in its report for the first time.

Sabric assists in the combating of crime in the banking and cash-in-transit sectors.

In its release, Sabric said banking on digital platforms (app, online and telephonic) now exceeded all other transactio­n channels in SA, and was also the safest.

From 2020 to 2021, digital banking fraud incidents decreased by 18% overall.

The biggest decline in fraud incidents occurred in mobile banking fraud.

While the number of incidents declined, there was a 45% increase in the total gross losses in digital banking in the reporting period, Sabric reported.

“Digital banking products are far safer than in-person banking and enable people to transact from anywhere safely.

“But criminals have adjusted their social engineerin­g tactics to leverage your data from social media and data leaks, making their efforts to manipulate customers difficult to spot,” said Sabric CEO Nischal Mewalall.

ATM attacks increased by 11% in 2021, with a 17% increase in losses. I

Incidents where explosives were used increased by 15%, whereas the number of angle grinder incidents decreased by 11%, from 47 in 2020 to 42 incidents in 2021.

The Eastern Cape accounted for 5% of ATM attacks.

Sabric said there was a concerning rise in the number of ATM attacks, despite the technology and security measures deployed to make ATMs safer.

Though the industry recorded an 8% decrease in associated robbery incidents overall in 2021, branch-before-deposit incidents increased by 56% with financial losses in the same category increasing by 85%.

Sabric accredited this increase to the implementa­tion of Covid-19 regulation­s in 2020 which limited the number of clients inside branches; as a result, perpetrato­rs targeted bank customers waiting to enter facilities.

Sabric reported two main modi operandi used by perpetrato­rs to target victims in parking lots close to a bank.

People seen exiting vehicles and carrying bags that appeared to be holding cash were targeted.

The second tactic used by perpetrato­rs was to follow someone to a branch, and then approach them when they were standing outside in a queue.

The Eastern Cape had the second lowest number of reported associated robbery incidents (6%).

Sabric reported a 16% decrease in bank branch burglary incidents with an 89% decrease in cash losses for 2021.

There were eight incidents last year where cash was targeted during a burglary.

Perpetrato­rs also targeted assets such as laptops and computers.

The Eastern Cape had the highest number of reported branch burglaries (24%) and also the highest percentage of bank robbery incidents (40%).

For the first time, Sabric’s annual crime statistics publicatio­n features applicatio­n fraud via vehicle and asset, home loans and unsecured fraud (current, cheque and savings accounts, personal and business loans).

Vehicle and asset finance fraud increased by 53% in 2021.

With regards to home loans, only 12% of reported fraudulent mortgage loan applicatio­ns were successful, while unsecured loans saw a 4.4% decrease from 2020 to 2021.

With regards to card fraud in 2021, card-not-present (CNP) fraud with a debit card contribute­d to 55.3% of all card fraud.

CNP fraud increased by 31.5% when compared to 2020 and remained a concern as transactio­ns with online merchants increased.

Mewalall warned that fake websites were being used to defraud online shoppers of their money or harvest their credit card data.

He added that scammers had even delivered inferior products to create the impression the website was legitimate.

“We are making inroads in combating banking and financial crime in SA. We have trained more than 900 SAPS and NPA personnel on banking products and related evidence. Working closely with the DPCI, we have also establishe­d task teams across provinces to aggressive­ly address prioritise­d banking crime threats,” added Mewalall.

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