Skimming, cheque fraud and cybercrime remain major concerns for financial institutions and law enforcement officials in Barbados.
What is more, a PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 2018 Global Economic Crime Survey revealed that globally, members of organizations were, in many cases, facilitating some of those crimes.
While officials did not have data specific to Barbados, Chairman of the Barbados Bankers Association’s (BBA’s) anti-fraud committee Sheldon Layne said skimming and cheque fraud were widespread on the island.
“One of the things we have been seeing is an increase in the number of cheque frauds across the island,” Layne told Barbados TODAY this morning on the sidelines of the annual fraud conference of the Institute of Internal Auditors, Barbados Chapter.
In June of this year the National Insurance Department reported that it had uncovered multiple cases of cheque fraud.
A week ago, the department again warned businesses to be vigilant after receiving reports of fraudulent activity involving pension cheques.
There have also been several reports of individuals being taken before the courts on fraud charges over the years.
“It is quite widespread in Barbados and the police have been working with the banks to try to fight this fraud,” he said.
Layne said Barbados has also had its share of increased skimming fraud over the years, but given measures employed by financial institutions, there had been a decrease in recent times. Skimming occurs when crooks use a small device to steal credit card information during a transaction usually at an ATM. The device reads the information stored on the card’s magnetic strip.
“That is still cause for concern, where the fraudsters are compromising the ATM (Automated Teller Machines) by inserting skimmers to steal the information of customers. That is something we still need to be concerned about,” he said.
In October 2013 two Bulgarians, Vladimir Lachezarof Momchilof and Krasimir Yanakiev Yanakiec, were charged after they allegedly stole close to quarter million US dollars from several ATM machines across the island.
In April 2016, police arrested and charged two Eastern European men in an ATM skimming scam.
With the busy Christmas shopping season approaching, Layne stressed that it was important that businesses and individuals educate themselves on the matter and how to be more careful as they carry out their transactions.
“We can’t stress enough the importance of customer education, ensuring that customers, when they go to use the ATM, that they protect their pins, be aware of their surroundings, select an appropriate ATM when they are going to use them at night, not accepting help from persons they don’t know. Customer education is key in the fight against fraud,” he explained.
He explained that businesses must ensure they take stock of the cash on hand, ensuring that excess cash is moved out of the domestic domain, ensuring that security cameras are up and running, and do regular checks of those cameras.”
He said financial institutions were doing their bit to help protect customers by enforcing controls and deploying anti-fraud skimming devices on machines in order to detect when a fraudster goes and deploys a skimmer.
“However, the fight against fraud is everybody’s business and everyone needs to play a part – financial institutions and customers alike,” said Layne, who also pointed out that with the increase in online banking, customers should be careful not to share their personal information.
Partner at PwC Jamaica Carolyn Bell-Wisdom said when it came to cybercrime mitigating measures, the recent PwC survey revealed that many businesses were not aware of their organization having a cyber risk assessment in place.
“In the same survey what was identified was that 52 per cent of the frauds that take place were actually inside jobs. So the very employees of the organizations are the ones who perpetrated the fraud,” she said.
“One of the key statistics as well was that 24 per cent of those inside jobs were actually senior management. Senior management is usually in that place of trust … So that whole matter of keeping an eye on the persons inside as well as the external players was reinforced based on that study,” she added.
Bell-Wisdom warned that even if the region was not seeing a lot of instances of cybercrime, organizations should put measures in place to be able to mitigate any possible incident.
In fact, she said with the proliferation of online banking and other online transactions it could be a matter of time before the region saw an increase in the cybercrime attempts.
“I know the wave is coming toward the Caribbean . . . The fraudsters keep identifying new ways [because] that is their business and that is how they make a living. So as one type of fraud is identified, tackled and overcome by the businesses they move on. So I expect as time goes on cyber fraud and cybercrime will be on the rise in the Caribbean region and we have been seeing some of that already,” she added.