It's not exactly breaking news to say that bank CIOs are concerned about security these days, and fraud in particular. Studies indicate that bank losses due to cybercrime are expected to increase steadily over the next several years.
But news today from the New York City borough of Queens reminds us that banks face security breaches on many fronts -- even from their own tellers.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, 111 individuals have been indicted in what is being called the largest identity theft takedown in U.S. history. The defendants are allegedly members of five separate organized forgery and identity theft rings based in Queens and have ties to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. They were charged in ten indictments with stealing the personal credit information of thousands of unwitting American and European consumers and costing individuals, financial institutions and retail businesses more than $13 million in losses over a 16-month period.
According to the DA's office, credit card account numbers were stolen by staff at banks, mostly by bank tellers, as well as restaurants and shops using skimming devices and then sent to criminal bosses. According to the indictments, the bosses then allegedly sent the stolen account numbers to a "manufacturer" who re-encoded the information onto the magnetic strips of blank credit cards using a "reverse" skimming device.
As a resident of Queens, this is scary news, and luckily no tellers at my bank were involved. But it underscores the fact that banks need to be increasingly vigilant about security, and that attacks can occur from anywhere.