By Farayi Machamire
Zimbabwe has been hit by a wave of sophisticated card cloning syndicates, which has seen retailers and individuals lose huge sums of money.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) president Denford Mutashu told the Daily News that members of his organisation had fallen victim to the scammers, who in some instances stole Point of Sale (POS) machines from shops and service stations and upload data which they used to clone debit cards.
“Several businesses and individuals have lost thousands of dollars through such activities. It is actually prevalent and happening across sectors, including airlines,” he said.
“Apart from educating stakeholders, we are engaging international partners, and when we attend the E-Commerce Summit in Barcelona, we will be collating information on how other jurisdictions have gone about it and where we can improve,” Mutashu said.
“Plastic and mobile money has become a major payment method hence the need to curb the current fraud and theft exposure like card cloning that most customers and businesses have fallen prey to.”
The E-commerce summit is a popular international event that focuses on the most important trends and developments in global ecommerce, cross-border trading and omni-channel retail.
Zimbabwe will be represented by the CZR, which is an affiliate to the E-Commerce Foundation.
Mutashu said they will use the exclusive, invitation-only conference for retailers and brands to appraise themselves with current global trends and how to nip the scams in the bud.
This comes as the Zimbabwe Republic Police has recorded over 150 card cloning cases in the last five months, some in which culprits formed alliances with workers to dupe unsuspecting employees.
In a statement last week, Criminal Investigations Department spokesperson detective assistant inspector Portia Chinho said the Commercial Crimes Division had noted the rise in cases of card cloning, which resulted in financial losses to corporates and individuals.
“Criminals are taking advantage of the uptake of plastic money by business organisations and members of the public to swindle money through card cloning,” she said.
“Card cloning involves the production of counterfeit bank debit cards by criminals after fraudulently acquiring bank debit/credit card information contained in the magnetic strip of the bank debit card.
“Criminals are acquiring bank debit card information through gadgets known as skimmers.
“These skimmers are able to extract debit card information and the said devices are similar to point of sale machines.
“Point of sale machines are a major catalyst and intelligence gathered has pointed out that there is collusion between these cyber criminals and cashiers at shops, liquor outlets and casinos, just to name a few.
“For the period January 2018 to date, the division has taken over 154 cases of card cloning,” she said.
“Out of these, 48 were received during the month of June alone and substantial amounts of cash were lost as a result of these scams.”
This week, the courts have been swamped with point of sale thieves.
On Monday, three men and a woman were dragged to court after they were captured on video distracting a fuel attendant at a Harare service station before making off with a POS machine.
In the video, which went viral on social media, one of the culprits calls a fuel attendant to assist with a purported car problem before a lady steals the POS machine and the gang flees from the scene. DailyNews