UPDATED:Credit card fraud – N3 Toll Plazas are a new hot spot: beware


 Have just gotten off the phone with the Discovery Card call centre. For the second time in the past year, a syndicate stole my credit card number and has started plundering the account.

After the last time, you’d forgive me for thinking that was the end of it. The new card has a chip and before it can be used to buy anything, merchants ask for a PIN number. But that only seems to be necessary if you’re doing it in person.

This morning, Comair – owners of – processed a R1 359 transaction on my account. Fortunately, Discovery sent an SMS notifying me of the transaction which, this time, I accessed immediately. There was also another SMS from the card company, sent yesterday, which stated there’s been a deduction for R1176.85 from LL Bean Catalogue, a reputable online clothing store.

My fervent hope is that Comair and LL Bean pull their fingers out and help to track down the miscreants. Airline tickets are booked for a physical person. Clothing is sent to a physical address. That establishes a trail, surely, that can be followed. At the very least investigated. And someone nailed.

Sadly, it’s more likely that doing so will too much “hassle” for the companies concerned. And that they’ve never heard of, nor care about the Broken Windows Theory. So we’ll just keep on Drifting, the subject of my recent Rational Alternative column.  I’ll send both companies a link to this piece. And hope to be pleasantly surprised.

Failing that, the good news is that I know where the card was “skimmed”.

During our time as owners of the Rosebank Health Shop, one of the employees got caught up in a crime syndicate who gave her a “skimming” machine. It’s a piece of equipment small enough to conceal under the till. When a customer hands over their credit card, a simple swipe through the skimming machine captures mag tape details for the syndicate which uses it to buy online or create duplicate credit cards. 

Given the way I’ve used this card over the past couple weeks, there is absolutely no doubt my card was skimmed by one of the N3 Toll Plaza operators. And it was done on Sunday afternoon between Mooi River and Johannesburg, as we returned from a weekend in the KZN Midlands. Once again, I will be sending a link for this story to the N3 Toll Plaza company. This time I’m more hopeful of a positive response. If skimming is to become a part-time earner for their operators, it would have a terrible impact on the company’s reputation. There could only be, at most, 30 people manning the Mooi River to Jhb toll booths during this period. So tracking down the criminal won’t be terribly difficult.

After the recent media coverage about malwear hitting fast food outlets, it’s easy to believe credit card fraud is out of control. It isn’t. But it remains an attractive way for syndicates to tap into the savings of the honest majority. The problem is many companies (like the one in the story below) take little interest. Fraud is written off to an expense account. Responsibility is abdicated to the banks. And these institutions are flooded with so many inquiries that they can only investigate some. 

If there were ever an instance where collaborative action were demanded, this is it. So I’ll send those emails. And hope to be proven wrong.  – AH

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