JOHANNESBURG – South African banks have lost millions of dollars this year in the biggest ever payment card fraud to hit the continent’s wealthiest economy, the financial transactions body said Wednesday.
A syndicate of fraudsters believed to be based in Europe hacked into the server of point-of-sale systems of retail shops, restaurants and fast-food eateries.
“The fraud losses run in the region of tens of millions of rands (millions of dollars),” Walter Volker, chief executive officer of the Payment Association of South Africa (PASA) told AFP. “It was quite substantial.”
The attackers used a variant of the malware known as Dexter to attack servers and steal data which was then used to clone cards.
“This category of data compromise is the biggest that we have experienced in the card industry” in South Africa, said Volker.
The attack was first detected early this year in the wake of unusually high levels of fraud. Forensic investigations discovered the malware inside the retail systems.
The systems have now been cleaned at all the affected sites, Volker said.
Data was only stolen from magnetic strip cards and “no chip cards were compromised and no PINs were compromised and none of the CVV numbers were compromised,” he said.
Volker refused to name some of the retailers affected by the fraud, but local media cited chicken fast food giant KFC and the operator of Wimpy and Debonairs Pizza as victims.