South Africa is grappling with a formidable array of financial and banking crimes spanning contact crimes, digital offenses, application fraud, and card fraud – criminal activities that cast a very long shadow over the nation’s economy, society, and governance.

With this in mind, SABRIC has released its annual crime statistics report for 2022 which sheds light on the multifaceted landscape of financial fraud, as well as security challenges, facing the country’s banking industry.

These key findings from the report, says SABRIC, underscore the complexity of the situation:

* Explosive surge in ATM attacks: Despite the deployment of dye-stain technology, ATM explosive attacks surged by 23% in 2022 posing persistent challenges in the prevention of these high-risk criminal acts.

* Alarming rise in digital banking fraud: South Africa witnessed an alarming 36% surge in reported incidents of online banking fraud in 2022. Fraudsters deployed a range of tactics including social engineering and “vishing” scams to deceive victims into divulging sensitive information.

* Escalating losses in online banking fraud: Financial losses per incident in online banking fraud soared in 2022 reflecting a 9% increase from the previous year. Phishing and vishing continued to be the preferred methods for illicitly gaining access to confidential banking data.

* Decrease in branch before deposit robberies: A notable 39% decrease in branch before deposit robbery incidents in 2022 can be attributed to the successful arrest of main suspects in specific regions.

* Progress in mobile banking fraud reduction: Encouragingly, the number of reported mobile banking fraud incidents saw a 9% reduction in 2022. Additionally, incidents involving SIM swaps declined from 87% in 2021 to 76% in 2022 indicating a waning efficacy of this fraudulent tactic.

* Decline in fraudulent vehicle asset finance applications: A commendable 17,6% reduction in fraudulent applications for vehicle asset finance (VAF) in 2022 was driven by the effectiveness of robust fraud detection systems implemented by banks.

* Card fraud decrease with persistent challenges: Card fraud, encompassing debit and credit cards, saw an 18,4% decrease overall. However, card-not-present (CNP) fraud – despite accounting for the largest portion of card fraud – displayed a decrease in incidents with scammers resorting to “vishing” tactics to obtain OTPs.

“Collaboration among government entities, the private sector, and civil society is paramount to effectively combating financial crime,” says SABRIC’s CEO Nischal Mewalall. “The commitment of organisations like SABRIC to bolster law enforcement capabilities, fortify regulatory frameworks, and promote transparency and accountability is unwavering.”