Fri | Feb 26, 2021

FRAUD ALARM - Women, millennials main targets of credit, debit card thieves

Published:Friday | December 4, 2020 | 12:30 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Staff Reporter
Credit- and debit-card fraud is a cause for growing concern.
Credit- and debit-card fraud is a cause for growing concern.

While credit- and debit-card fraud remains the most prevalent financial crimes committed locally, the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) is reporting that females and millennials are disproportionately targeted by the fraudsters.

Major Keron Burrell, head of policy and methodology at the BOJ, said young people between the ages of 18 and 34 were more frequent victims of credit- and debit-card fraud.

In an online presentation Thursday on fraud trends during the coronavirus pandemic, Burrell said that women were perceived to be easier targets by the perpetrators of card heists.

In 2018, card fraud accounted for 90 per cent of total losses to deposit-taking institutions. While the number fell to 80 per cent in 2019, Burrell said that the central bank saw an uptick in card-not-present fraud in which the criminals started to target online activities.

“As we have increased the security around and the guidance on card fraud, that fraud has fallen as a percentage, but card-not-present fraud has increased over the period,” Burrell said.

“Similar to the experience of many countries, relocation of banking services to cyberspace during the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be an incentive for financial criminals to attack financial institutions.”

He warned that financial criminals had set their sights on beneficiaries of the Government’s CARE and PATH welfare programmes, which provided relief to persons impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19.

He said that various types of fraud, including impersonation, have surfaced across several countries as unscrupulous individuals prey on persons hoping to benefit from COVID-19 assistance.

“This emerging typology is one that must be monitored carefully in our jurisdiction, especially in the context of possible decline in the Jamaican economy and the reality that significant portions of the population depend on each pay cheque for continued survival.”

The BOJ expert said that at the start of the pandemic, fraud spiked as persons were trying to benefit from the outbreak.

“As we saw that fraud started, the central bank sent two correspondents out to the banking sector, and, of course, it started to fall.”

In a study on banking fraud, the BOJ highlighted a number of challenges faced by the banking sector as it tackles fraudulent activities.

The central bank cited insufficient human resources, a cumbersome judicial system that issues insufficient sentences to convicted fraudsters, expensive and time-consuming implementation of anti-fraud measures, and a lack of reliable information.