Standard Bank R300m fraud case linked to hacking

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Bank ATM. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Bank ATM. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

A report this week in the Japan News has linked the Standard Bank ATM fraud – which saw R300 million withdrawn from 1400 ATMs across Japan – to the alleged hacking of a computer system belonging Standard Bank South Africa. 

On May 15, about 100 people reportedly used forged Standard Bank credit cards to withdraw ¥1.8 billion (more than R250 million) from ATMs in Tokyo and other areas in Japan. 

Japan News reported that an analysis of the computer system revealed that a program in the system was operated with no authorisation early in the morning on May 15, shortly before the withdrawals were made. 

Standard Bank, in responding to the report, said the investigation into the crime was still ongoing. 

“The current investigation has reached an advanced and sensitive stage,” Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom told Fin24 in an email. 

“Due to the sensitivity of the investigation and the multi-jurisdictional nature of the enquiry it would be inappropriate for Standard Bank to comment on speculation regarding this matter,” Linstrom added. 

According to Standard Bank no customer loss occurred as a result of the fraud. 

Japan News also reported that 10 people had been arrested. 

Meanwhile, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) indicated that it was not investigating this matter itself but that it was “supporting” both Standard Bank and law enforcement with their investigation. 

“We don’t do investigations as part of Sabric’s work. We support the banks, we support law enforcement on behalf of the banks in terms of any investigation, and we obviously have certain roles to play in terms of coordinating – that’s Sabric’s role in this,” Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay told Fin24. 

Pillay went on to say that this incident was the first of its kind in this country. 

The crime is clearly “highly organised and sophisticated” and the investigation was complex, she said. 

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