No impact on customers as it was detected early. Bank working closely with police
Bandar Seri Begawan - Though the advancement of technology is typically equated to making day-to-day activities much simpler, the reality is that there are some in the community who use the development of ICT in a wrong way.
A rare case that was almost non-existent, until yesterday was brought to the attention of the media, which involved an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) located in one of the country's busiest areas.
The perpetrator(s) have used a very simple technology to steal card details from unsuspecting ATM users through an internationally known method called 'card-skimming'.
The ATM in question, operated by Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Brunei, is located at The Mall in Gadong, known for its bustling business activities especially over the weekend, and every month-end long lines of people could be seen queuing to withdraw cash from the many ATMs when private and government employees receive their salaries.
A spokesperson for the bank via an e-mail assured that "HSBC's Security and Fraud team has acted swiftly on this matter and is currently working with the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF).
"The matter in question has no impact on the customers," as the device "was detected early".
"HSBC would like to alert the public to be vigilant at all times and to report on any suspicious items, devices or activities at any ATMs to either the police or the nearest HSBC branch."
As personnel from both agencies are currently working towards determining the source of the copying device, further information will be provided in due course, it was said.
News of this fraud, meanwhile, made its way to social networking site Facebook as well as photo sharing application Instagram and has subsequently raised public alarm with many from across the country airing their own personal concerns and questioning the safety of their money in banks with some calling for the banks to thoroughly check their respective ATMs to deter this illegal act of identity theft.
The enormity of such card-skimming activities have been making waves throughout the globe with nations such as Australia and the United States making efforts to bring awareness to the public to protect their people against such skimming activities.
Both countries have dedicated web pages detailing what card-skimming is and, as explained by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation that also deals with such crimes, devices that are planted on ATMs "are usually undetectable by users" as "makers of this equipment have become very adept at creating them, often from plastic or plaster, so that they blend right into the ATM's facade".
"The specific device used is often a realistic-looking card reader placed over the factory-installed card reader. Customers insert their ATM card into the phoney reader, and their account info is swiped and stored on a small attached laptop or cell phone or sent wirelessly to the criminals waiting nearby.
"In addition, skimming typically involves the use of a hidden camera, installed on or near an ATM, to record customers' entry of their PINs into the ATMs keypad. We have also seen instances where, instead of a hidden camera, criminals attach a phoney keypad on top of the real keypad which records every keystroke as customers punch in their PINs.
"Skimming devices are installed for short periods of time - usually just a few hours - so they're often attached to an ATM by nothing more than double-sided tape. They are then removed by the criminals, who download the stolen account information and encode it onto blank cards. The cards are used to make withdrawals from victims' accounts at other ATMs."
The closest form of crime related to credit card and ATM card fraud in Brunei was reported last year in which eight individuals including two Malaysian nationals faced the country's court of law for having used forged credit cards to shop for gold and other equally expensive items. Their activities were brought to the attention of the RBPF by bank staff who were suspicious of the transactions that totalled over B$100,000.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin