n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Skimming : a transactional card fraud monster

Volume 26, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The banking card industry has grown enormously over the years. In today's world almost every person uses a bank card to make a transaction. The convenience of substituting a bank card for cash provides a safer option to individuals in that they are less prone to becoming victims of contact crimes such as pick pocketing and theft. Criminals, however, are always looking for opportunities to commit crime and card fraud has provided an avenue for criminals to exploit. Card fraud has taken many forms, from thieves using stolen or lost credit or debit cards to buy goods to the greater more sophisticated problem of criminals involved in counterfeit card fraud for example skimming. Skimming is the single biggest contributor of card fraud locally and internationally and as such can be equated to a monster. A monster is described as a large frightening creature of gigantic proportion. The similarities lie in the fact that they both bring about some form of destruction. In skimming such destruction is brought about by the use of a counterfeit card where the genuine data on a cards magnetic strip is electronically copied onto another, without the knowledge of the legitimate cardholder. The various associations that issue bank cards have come up with a number of preventative measures to address counterfeit card fraud and in particular skimmed cards for example the introduction of the chip and pin which aims to replace the magnetic strip security feature. These initiatives, however, have done very little to deter criminals who still commit counterfeit card fraud with impunity.

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