Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Immoral innovators!

Published:Sunday | November 7, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Edmundo Jennez has seen skimmers (devices used to lift PIN details) in Jamaica that are made from ordinary items: a small camera, a nine-volt battery, and a transmitter. He has also seen some that seem to have been made in a sophisticated factory utilising microprocessors.

He points out that they can even be made by stripping components from other devices. "Somebody with the right electronics experience could pull apart one device and make one," Jennez said.

With the devices used to read persons' information "quite small and not quite easy to detect", Jennez says: "I can't say how or how many devices come through customs. There is nothing alarming or suspect about them or how they look. The card swipe is used for many purposes - in hotels, for example. The technology of magnetic stripes is being used for legitimate purposes.

"They [the skimmers] do not stand out in any clear-cut way that customs can identify all the time. It is an interesting challenge in how they get into the country."

However, he points out that "it is not only in Jamaica, it is a worldwide phenomenon. It is a challenge all over the world".

Jennez says that there are peak periods for debit- card transactions, which are also optimum times for the criminal-minded. "Every Christmas season, you have to be much more alert," he said. "There is a natural increase, and people with a criminal mindset get more active in the season, anywhere they can take advantage. You have pickpockets - people who try to get your information."

Peak period

He explains that there are two peak periods for transactions at Christmas, one a week before the actual day, and then Christmas Eve. And then there is a much more regular peak period, around the monthly payday cycle.

Two years ago, before the recession really hit, $40 billion was in circulation two weeks before Christmas, with an additional $10 billion projected to be injected before the season climaxed. For security reasons, persons are often advised to use cards for their transactions, instead of carrying around cash.

- M.C.