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.
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.
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.
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.
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.