HomeOpinionZimbabweans now big players in UK fraud scams

Zimbabweans now big players in UK fraud scams

Jacob Mutisi ICT EXPERT
Another set of Zimbabweans caught and convicted in another United Kingdom (UK) Credit card fraud scam this week!

“With the growth of internet usage worldwide, the UK has become a target destination for global credit card fraudsters,” the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) argues.  The UK is the global epicentre for credit card fraud attacks, according to five of the biggest British banks and more than a dozen security experts who said scammers were buying up batches of consumers’ personal details on the darknet to target the record numbers of people shopping and banking online since the pandemic.

In the UK credit card fraud is the most common type of identity theft. It is estimated that there are 500 million credit cards in the UK alone and it’s no surprise that millions of its citizens fall victim every year. The scale of credit card, identity and cyber-fraud makes it the most prevalent crime, costing up to £190 billion a year. Credit card fraud in the UK is a well networked system that has now gone global making it easier for Zimbabweans to participate in this criminal network as well. This is the crime UK citizens are most likely to fall victim to which the British legal system has failed to respond to risking undermining public confidence in the rule of law. Every year there are Zimbabweans being caught and/or convicted for credit card fraud, identity theft and cyber fraud in the UK but how do these frauds take place?

Criminals can obtain lost or stolen credit cards. The fraudster may not be able to use the lost or stolen card at a point of sale device, which requires a PIN. But the fraudster can use the card details to make purchases online.

Card-not-present fraud is a type of fraud that does not require the criminal to have a physical credit card. Instead, they will obtain basic details, such as the account holder’s name, the credit card number, and the expiration date. With this information, they can commit fraudulent activity by mail, via the phone, or online.

Counterfeit, doctored or faked cards are a type of fraud that uses devices known as skimmers that can illegally obtain credit card details.

These devices capture information from the credit card’s magnetic strip, which the criminal can then encode into a counterfeited, faked, or doctored card. It might be hard to detect the difference between a regular card reader or ATM and one with a skimmer attached to it.

There is also Application fraud. Rather than stealing existing credit card details, a criminal will apply for new credit in someone else’s name. They do this by using the victim’s personal information, such as their full name, date of birth, address and National Insurance Number.

They may even steal supporting documentation to substantiate their application.

Account takeover is also referred to as social engineering. A fraudster obtains the victim’s personal information, such as their full name, date of birth, address and National Insurance Number. After obtaining the personal information, a fraudster can then contact the victim’s credit card company and pretend to be the account holder by presenting information like previous purchases, passwords and card details. They will then register a change of address and then report the card as lost or stolen to get a new card sent out through the mail.

Criminals intercept cards in the mail, if a credit card company sends out a new or replacement card via the post.

FAST PAYMENTS, FAST FRAUD?
According to the UK government’s National Economic Crime Centre (NECC) there is an agreement that fraud represents a threat to British security. Britain’s Faster Payments’ Network, which allows transfers between bank accounts to settle instantly rather than in hours or days as in other developed banking markets, means criminals can rapidly spirit away funds.

Pay.UK, which runs the network, says the system supported the British economy, consumers and businesses. It added that criminals were getting better at exploiting digitisation and that it was working with the industry and regulator to fight fraud.

Crimes such as authorised push payments (APP) where people are tricked into authorising a payment by a criminal posing as their bank or other trusted company are proliferating globally after having started off as a largely UK phenomenon.

The UK ranks second in the world behind the United States as a source of automated bot attacks, the fastest-growing type of fraud attack in the world, according to data from Lexis Nexis Risk Solutions, a financial crime analysis firm. Bot attacks see criminals use a high volume of stolen identity credentials to overrun a website, allowing them to set up new accounts or access existing ones. Reports by HSBC indicate that the UK is a hotbed of fraud. Britain’s banks which often pick up the compensation bill when people are scammed are trying to respond. HSBC, which has operations in the Americas and Asia, has hired more than 300 staff in a year to support its anti-fraud operations in its home market and increased annual spending by 40% to deal with an “exponential” number of customers affected, the bank told  Reuters.

The UK is the hotbed of activity for fraudsters. Currently the UK accounts for about 80% of our global personal fraud losses.

Lloyds said it had invested £100 million in its defences over the past two years, while rival NatWest has 10% of its workforce – amounting to 6 000 people  dedicated to combating financial crime. TSB has hired 100 extra staff to support fraud victims in the last year.

But lenders are also pressing the government to make social media platforms, where they say some attacks originate, share the burden.

British lawmakers told bosses at Facebook, Google, Amazon and eBay last month that they needed to do more to combat fraud.

To the British authorities, credit card fraud is an old scam by the Zimbabweans and Zimbabwe is the biggest beneficiary of this respective scam. Your cyberspace is wide open and it is time to engage British Zimbabweans cyber experts to catch another Zimbabwean.

Mutisi is the CEO of Hansole Investments (Pvt) Ltd and the current chairperson of Zimbabwe Information & Communication Technology, a division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers.

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