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Saturday 22 September 2018
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$40.5 million in card fraud last year

WORRYING: Acting DCP Harold Phillip at yesterday’s sitting of the Joint Select Committee on the Cybercrime Bill at the Parliament Building, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

IN 2017 the number of reports of card fraud was close to 1,694 which amounted to about $40.5 million, said acting Deputy Commissioner of Police Harold Phillip.

He was speaking as the Police Service met with the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on the Cybercrime Bill in Parliament yesterday.

He said there were several prosecutions for fraudulent use of cards, trafficking in counterfeit cards and using card-making equipment. He said for 2017 there were 78 prosecutions, with some cases involving one person being prosecuted for multiple offences.

Phillip said there were substantial reports of people responding to emails asking for identification information and accounts being hacked as well as the recent cases of people inserting empty envelopes into fast-deposit ATMs, having their accounts credited and withdrawing money.

“Yes we have commenced investigations and we have been successful in a few prosecutions so far. But we continue also to get reports of fraudulent use of credit cards...and to date we would have had about 747 such reports.

Phillip said the Police Service’s suggestions for the bill included: expanding the definition of “harm” to include physical, financial, intellectual and social distress; having “damage” and “access” defined; providing password and key access to the police; and for offences to be arrestable whether summary or indictable.

“Given the fact that cybercrime is a very well known phenomenon internationally and it is a very serious crime we would want to ensure that when we look at the penalties and so on we are also of the view that...the penalty should in fact reflect an arrestable offences which is five years or more.”

Phillip said currently there were two and three years penalties which were not indictable. He also said, given the skill sets required to pursue investigations, the police may need to have external resources.

The police called for the Cybercrime offences to be included under the Anti-Gang Act and acting Assistant Superintendent Organised Crime Intelligence Unit Kerwin Francis gave the example of two people involved in credit card fraud being considered a “gang.”

Cybercrime Unit Inspector Amos Sylvester also spoke about a difficulty experienced with local internet service providers (ISPs) last year regarding malware that was being hosted through their services. He said both ISPs said the police had no right to ask them to take it down but they communicated with the clients. He added that about two clients took down what was causing the problems but another two did not understand and left it.

“The police were powerless to do anything.”

Earlier as the American Chamber of Commerce TT (Amcham) met with the JSC Amcham President Nirad Tewarie said the issue of phishing was very pervasive and the chamber had reported an incident of phishing amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.

“We wrote to the TTPS and it took months to get an acknowledgement of that. And that matter is not yet resolved. And so passing the bill is one thing; having the ability to implement is another.”

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