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Banking-related robberies down 24% due to Covid-19 lockdowns – Sabric

But digital banking crimes spike as criminals now attack online.
Cash-in-transit robberies significantly decreased when the country was in Lockdown Level 5 of the lockdown in April and May 2020, however once restrictions were lifted, these increased again by 22%. Image: Nigel Sibanda

Contact financial crimes such as banking-related robberies fell 24% in 2020 given the movement restrictions and visible policing linked to Covid-19 lockdowns.

This is revealed in the latest annual crimes stats report by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) released on Wednesday.

However, the report noted a spike in incidents of digital banking crime as online shopping and online payment systems have become popular in the wake of the pandemic.

Sabric says that criminals exploited Covid-19 to improve their efforts of scamming customers to steal their personal data and defraud them on digital and online platforms.

Fraud in digital banking surged 33%, according to the report.

“Covid-19, in conjunction with the implementation of regulations of the Disaster Management Act had a notable influence on financial crime trends in 2020. It triggered changes in human behaviour, human movement, and policing, creating new opportunities for criminals which significantly impacted the number of crime incidents,” Sabric says in its statement.

“While some crime types decreased, others increased as criminals exploited Covid-19,” it adds.

The report also showed an increase in debit card fraud, which was up 22%. This usually occurs when a criminal gains access to a customer’s debit card number and in some cases, their personal identification number to make unauthorised withdrawals or purchases.

Automated Teller Machine (ATM) explosive attacks also increased by 20%. As the report was for last year, it does not include the ATMs damaged during the recent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in July.

Read: July unrest saw over R119m in ‘hard cash’ stolen from banks and ATMs

Meanwhile, Sabric’s crime stats report also shows a decline in crimes such as credit card fraud (-7%) and (general) ATM attacks (-9%).

Cash-in-transit robberies significantly decreased when the country was in Level 5 of the lockdown in April and May 2020, however once restrictions were lifted, these increased again by 22% as criminals were able to move with fewer restrictions and fear of roadblocks and searches.

Commenting on the report and the spike in online banking crimes, Sabric CEO Nischal Mewalall says: “Your personal data, when combined with technology has become the new key to the safe that holds your money in a bank, so you must safeguard your data to prevent criminals getting access to your safe.”

He warns that cybercrime and data breaches will represent a significant threat to customers and banks in the future as even the best security and technology can now be compromised when criminals source and use legitimate data illegally to carry out a crime.

To avoid falling victim to digital banking fraud, Mewalall cautions bank customers from clicking on links in unsolicited emails as these links are used in phishing emails to drive people to “spoofed” websites which may look like legitimate online retailers, accompanied by enticing images and convincing taglines.

“Criminals use these bogus websites to harvest bank card details to make online purchases using your account. We are still seeing lots of scam’s advertising seemingly incredible deals for personal protective equipment, sanitiser and fake vaccines that exploit people’s concern for their health and safety,” Mewalall points out.

Listen to Fifi Peters’s interview with Sabric CEO:

Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.


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Black middle class is a feel-goodism. Actually there is nothing called middle class. Black middle class is an imaginary gap filled by people deep in debt. Trying to prove that they are not poor and live in the non-racialism myth.

Trying to keep up with the Joneses or fake it till you make it. But you will not be accepted by the community if you don’t have that vrrpa if you tweet from android if you don’t even have one balenciaga you never been to Taboo I can go on. And everyone knows if you don’t fit in you become a victim of abuse shinanigans fake friends if you don’t buy Debonairs for lunch at work you will not get a increase you will not be taken seriously during meetings and you will have to work harder and overtime just for gratitude instead of a living.

Only in this country is an article published on Bank Robberies


I would rather want to read what Politicians are doing about uplifting the economy instead of reading daily about how they splurge stolen money

Banks are out Bitcion is better than gold it’s not cyclical. Also is this 24% down from the all time high it was during covid level 3 or is this 24% down from its low before covid two years ago which was also unusually high? The 24% down is taken out of context.

End of comments.





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