There was a sharp increase in attacks on ATMs in 2021, and while incidents of digital banking fraud declined, the value extracted by criminals soared, according to a new report from Sabric.
Sabric, or the South African Banking Risk Information Centre, said its annual crime statistics for 2021, released on Monday, showed that digital platforms (including in-app, online and telephone banking) now exceed all other transaction channels in South Africa – and are becoming safer to use.
From 2020 to 2021, digital banking fraud incidents decreased by 18% overall, with the biggest decline occurring in mobile banking fraud. However, while the number of incidents declined, there was a 45% increase in the total gross losses in digital banking in the reporting period.
ATM attacks increased by 11% in 2021, with a 17% increase in losses. Incidents where explosives were used increased by 15%, whereas the number of incidents involving angle grinders decreased by 11%, from 47 in 2020 to 42 incidents in 2021.
“Sabric is concerned by the rise in the number of ATM attacks, despite the technology and security measures deployed to make ATMs safer,” it said.
“Although 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%.”
Regarding card fraud in 2021, card-not-present (CNP) fraud with a debit card contributed to 55.3% of all such fraud. CNP fraud increased by 31.5% when compared to 2020 and remained a concern as transactions with online merchants increased.
Sabric CEO CEO Nischal Mewalall warned that banks and consumers have also had to contend with growing incidents of fake e-commerce websites used to defraud customers or harvest their credit card data. “In certain instances, scammers have even delivered inferior products to create the impression that the website was legitimate.”
Mewalall said digital banking products are “far safer” than in-person banking. However, criminals have adjusted their social engineering tactics to leverage data from social media and data leaks, making their efforts to manipulate customers difficult to spot.
Sabric is a not-for-profit company formed by South African banks to support the banking industry in the combating of crime. It clients are the banks and cash-in-transit providers. – © 2022 NewsCentral Media