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Apparently Bank Cards Can Be Cloned Easily, Here Is How To Stay Safe

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Bank cards

Last week a man was arrested on charges of cloning a bank debit card and helping himself to thousands of  US dollars, or is it bond? Are they the same thing? Either way, he treated himself to thousands that were not his.

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The fraudster is one Bryan Gaha who allegedly cloned a Steward Bank debit card belonging to a David Muchatiza. Gaha gave the cloned card to his partner in crime, Mike Chiyangwa, who then went on a shopping spree which was only cut short when Muchatiza received a notification that he had just spent $1700 at a casino at a time when he was relaxed at home.

Muchatiza contacted the bank and the card was frozen but $2652 had already been spent by that time. Muchatiza seems to be doing well in life because if my card was cloned, the cloner would spend more to clone it than he or she would get from the account. Muchatiza has not recovered a single cent of that $2652 yet.

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The investigations revealed that it was Mike Chiyangwa who had used the card and when he was interviewed he snitched right away, as he should, and pointed the finger at Gaha who was then apprehended. When Gaha was arrested he was searched and was found in possession of different bank cards belonging to different customers. I know we say innocent until proven guilty but the guy was caught red handed with cloned cards.

The matter is at the courts.

Card Cloning

This fraudulent practice is a problem worldwide and as it has now hit our shores here in Zimbabwe let us look at how you can stay safe and reduce the chances of your card being cloned. First let’s discuss what card cloning is and how they probably do it.

The most common way of cloning a card is through the use of a card skimmer. The card skimmer allows the fraudster to capture and record all the data on a card.

The card skimmer is placed on any machine that accepts debit or credit cards, think ATM machines or POS machines. When an unsuspecting victim inserts their card in the skimmer the data on the card is captured.

Depending on the sophistication of the card skimmer the fraudsters might also need to capture your PIN separately and would make use of a camera or a dude peeping over your shoulder to get it.

It is not easily apparent that a device has been tampered with and a card skimmer installed in it but be wary if the machine looks bulky, feels loose or blocked. A loose number pad is also a bad sign.

How do you stay safe?

While the general feeling is that plastic money is safer because you do not carry around cash that you can easily be relieved of, there are measure you have to take to stay safe.

  • Do not let your debit card be taken out of your sight. Not ever.
  • When entering your PIN make sure to block it out so that no camera or peeping-tom catches a glimpse.
  • Give the card slot and number pad a good wiggle to check for looseness. If loose it may have been tampered with, do not insert your card in there.
  • If your card is swallowed contact the bank immediately, if possible right there whilst you’re in front of the machine that swallowed it.

The process is an ongoing one though and to ensure you know immediately when there is suspicious activity on your card do the following

  • Set up account alerts. This is one area you cannot afford to be a cheapskate, the few cents you are charged for SMS alerts are worth it.
  • Regularly and religiously go through your account statements. Go register for internet banking because then it will be free for you to review you statements, requesting a printed copy from the bank will cost you in hard cash and time take to visit the bank too.

Conclusion

In this article we looked at card skimming but debit card fraud happens in many other ways. They can hack you if you use public WiFi to capture everything you type. They can phish like the CBZ emails we talked about earlier. The old school spying we mentioned above is still used too.

Take great care to stay safe lest you lose your precious bond notes, whatever the amount.

Here is to David Muchatiza, we hope he recovers all that was taken from him.


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14 thoughts on “Apparently Bank Cards Can Be Cloned Easily, Here Is How To Stay Safe

  1. My friend was taken by this scheme. She lives in Victoria Falls, so imagine her surprise when she saw a text saying she spent over a thousand in some boutique in Harare. No joke. This guy should ask his bank about insurance. He might be able to get his money back.

    1. Perhaps this is a police matter. After all, if the thief had stolen her cash and used it to buy goods, (and this is the same thing) you guys wouldnt be complaining to the bank. Now because the thief ‘borrowed her card’ copied it, and also strangely accessed her PIN (hope she isnt just using 1234..) it becomes a bank issue? Get real.

    1. I don’t think they should, unless Steward had a role to play in the cloning of this individuals card, for example, if an staff member duplicated the card. You as a card user must also take care of your property. It is not explained how the cloner managed to copy the card, without the owner knowing. A thorough investigation must be conducted first, before the thought of the bank compensating anyone is even entertained. In some cases, individuals claiming their cards were cloned are in cahoots with the criminals as part of a double scam ending in an insurance claim.

      Banks on the other hand must do more to educate customers on safe security practices. Even when you call the customer care of some banks, for example Stanbic and NMB, ask you to quote your full VISA debit card number to them when handling card related issues. Yet, they tell you NEVER give out those same numbers to ANYONE. I always insist they look it up from my account number instead, NMBs system can’t do that for some reason. Anyway, that’s something they promised to fix, and I’m still waiting. Banks can also add more controls for users. Some foreign banks have an app where you can toggle the activity of your card much in the same way you switch your Wifi on and off on your phone. This allows you to switch your card ON only when you are planning on using it.

        1. true by law there should never be two cards attached to one account with the same details ever in other countries well. and also the way you spend the levels, geographical locations

    2. @Joseph, actually, (and just IMHO) i agree that the Merchant (Casino..) and the Bank who runs that joint should be asked if they were suspicious about the spending habits of the fraudster, suddenly spending good money. Keep in mind that there are many banks offering Chip cards, and if you have so much money in your account, then rather get one of those!

  2. Banks are insured for such scams, but they are not passing the benefits to consumers, but looking at how greedy these are, its not surprising. We need a strong regulator.

    Banks are the ones who are giving out cards which are less secure so they must pay back the money lost because it being withdrawn from there banks.

    1. Come down from Cloud 9, MacD. We have a strong regulator in the RBZ. They already asked banks to move ‘high value customers’ to chip long ago. But Chip is expensive, and its not something you can just import (not sure if you are aware, but imports are a little difficult right now). If you just have your 300 on your swipe card, you are not a rich pickings target for these fraudsters; it is the fat cats with the big balance that the fraudsters chase.

  3. Zimbabwe banks are lazy. They should match Chip and Pin technology now. How can I protect myself if the bank can not protect myself.

    1. Robson, Zimbabwean banks are not lazy. They try to do the best they can given their circumstances – dont think for a second they are immune to the situation you are also in.

  4. How are you Techzim, i was with Bryan Gaha on the 13 of October, i know him because we were former classmates, and he had access to my bank card on that day and the next day all thr money i had in my account was wiped out by POS transactions that i had not authorissd as well as my Iphone 7+ Which was stolen
    I was asking Techzim if there is any way you could assist me with getting in touch with the police of that case or the police station where the charges were made so that i can assist with the investigation

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