Japan an alluring target for Standard Bank ATM thieves

Tue May 24, 2016 8:36am EDT
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By Jeremy Wagstaff and Taiga Uranaka

SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - Criminals who stole millions of dollars from automatic teller machines across Japan in a three-hour spree probably chose the country because banks consider it a low fraud risk, security experts say. 

The gang used counterfeit Standard Bank credit cards to withdraw 1.4 billion yen ($13 million) in 14,000 transactions from ATMs at 7-Eleven convenience stores over three hours on a Sunday morning, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Most ATMs in the 7-Eleven stores belong to Seven Bank, a Japanese bank part-owned by Seven & I Holdings (3382.T: Quote) which runs the store chain in Japan, one of only two Japanese banks that allow withdrawals on foreign cards.  

The thieves are still at large. 

"They were smart in selecting Japan," said one banking security consultant who asked not to be identified.

"They found a badly protected ATM network in a low-risk country, guessing that the fraud analytics software would not automatically block the transactions."

South Africa's Standard Bank (SBKJ.J: Quote) said on Monday it had suffered the losses, not its customers, and that it had alerted the authorities. It estimated its total loss at 300 million rand ($19 million).

The bank declined to comment further on Tuesday.   Continued...

People stand outside a 7-Eleven convenience store outside the headquarters of Seven & I Holdings in Tokyo January 9, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo