By Mark Sutton
Card fraud attacks targeting Gulf-based bank accounts still ongoing
Banks in the UAE and Qatar are still being hit with debit and credit card fraud, one month after a major outbreak of card crime.
One UAE-based victim has told itp.net that her account with Lloyds TSB Bank was targeted over the weekend of 3rd-4th October, with over AED 20,000 ($5,400) taken in several fraudulent retail transactions made in Turkey.
The first the customer knew of the theft was when she was contacted by Lloyds TSB Bank who informed her that several suspect transactions had been made on her account, and asking if she was out of the country.
When she proved that she was not the one making the transactions, the bank cancelled the card and informed the customer that her money would be returned.
Staff at the bank indicated that several other customer accounts had also lost money, and that the bank was seeing a concentration of fraud in Turkey and Egypt.
The bank would not discuss details of the situation, but Julian Ashall, chief operating officer at Lloyds TSB Middle East commented: “Lloyds TSB Middle East works hard to protect its customers from all instances of fraud. All of our ATMs are installed with the latest anti-skimming technology to prevent card skimming from taking place. Customers should also be extra vigilant when using ATMs by protecting their PIN numbers and contacting the relevant bank should anything appear unusual at an ATM machine.”
Thousands of Gulf residents were affected by a wave of ATM fraud at the start of September, with customers of many banks reporting fraudulent transactions on their accounts made from overseas.
While it is still unclear why so many card details appear to have been stolen at one time, many reports have claimed that an unidentified UAE bank had been compromised in some way, allowing the theft of card details, which were then sold online.
Criminals in several countries including the US then either cloned the cards or used them online to make illegal transactions.
The Central Bank of the UAE launched an investigation into ATM fraud, summoning bank officials to a meeting on 25th September.
Many banks advised customers to change the PIN numbers of cards, and some also blocked overseas transactions for all cards as a precaution.
Both Qatar Islamic Bank and HSBC in Doha have recently sent out text messages to customers warning them to change their PIN numbers, officials confirmed.
“We have sent out text messages to certain customers whose accounts have been hit to change their PIN. The fraudsters have copied PIN codes and withdrawn cash,” Abdul Rahman Al Zaid, in-charge of corporate banking at Qatar Islamic Bank, told Qatar daily The Peninsula on Wednesday.
It was about time something happened. The Middle East always thought it would be safe from internet fraud, because it wasn't in the culture within. They did not suspect outside invaders would target the largest growing economies. More over , with the credit crisis in the US and world. The Middle East cash cow of Oil money is vulnerable to a high wave of internet fraud and hacking. There is a rumor, internet hackers are aligning together. Forming groups to hit weak spots in the Middle East especially start up banks. What is also spread is that its "pay back time" for what the Middle East has caused in the west. i.e: 9/11 - London Bombings, Iraq, Afghanistan etc.. Mainly there should be a GCC summit including western political leaders to address this issue and form an agreement to fight this wave targeting the Middle East.