One of fastest growing banks if the Pacific region is working hard on ways to beat the growing number of schemers and scammers.
As part of this effort, by March 2018, the Bank of South Pacific plans to introduce a more secure chip-embedded card for Visa and MasterCard products.
The card is part of the bank’s response following recent incidents where criminals were able to steal money from the bank’s Automated Teller Machines in Samoa.
B.S.P. Limited Group, Chief Executive Officer, Robin Fleming, told the Samoa Observer the bank is working hard to protect their customers from such incidents. He said criminals have been engaging in card frauds by targeting more vulnerable countries all over the Pacific.
“They have been using skimming devices and also have been stealing money by using counterfeit cards brought in, in large numbers from overseas,” he said.
Mr. Fleming, who has been C.E.O. since 2013, said they have their staff checking the A.T.M.’s regularly for skimming devices.
“And we also remind and encourage our customers to place their hands over the pin pad when they enter their pin at the A.T.Ms.
“Furthermore, as well as the more secure chip-embedded cards for Visa and MasterCard products, security measures are being upgraded in the bank’s A.T.M.’s and EFTPOS terminals.
“These are very costly upgrades for B.S.P. to carry out but these measures need to be undertaken so our systems are secure for our customers.”
Further, he said B.S.P. will continue to invest in its systems to make them as secure as possible to prevent customers from criminals accessing their card details illegally.
“We also encourage our customers to maintain security over their cards and pins and not share these details with anyone.”
Two weeks ago, District Court Judge, Fepulea’i Roma Ameperosa sentenced two Chinese men to five years in jail for their involvement in the skimming of over $70,000, from B.S.P.’s ATMs.
Zhong Shuiming and Yang Quigreen who are both from China, came to Samoa for the first time with “a high degree of planning and premeditation,” said the Judge.
“These were no ordinary thefts and most likely involved others.
“You might have been the ones making the withdrawals but there was obviously a great deal of planning before you arrived in Samoa, and started stealing from the A.T.M’s.
“It would have involved a fraudulent process obtaining identities and back data of overseas customers,” said Judge Fepulea’i.
He further noted the scheme involved the manufacturing of counterfeiting cards using information that was retained.
“It also involves you traveling all the way from China, with those counterfeit cards to an island where you have never been before and then you have withdrawn numerous and substantial sums from A.T.M.’s of a bank within three days.
During the sentencing submissions for the case Criminal Lawyer for the Attorney General’s Office, Lupematasila Iliganoa Atoa, issued a strong warning to international criminals that Samoa would not tolerate criminals who come here “taking advantage of the vulnerability of our small country.”
The lawyer said the Samoan electronic finance systems have not been exposed to such fraudulent conduct before and this is the first case of its kind. The defendants have clearly taken advantage of and used their advanced knowledge and system of fraud to steal from the Samoan A.T.M outlets, said Lupematasila.