Brazil is a Heaven for Cybercriminals
The countdown for thousands of tourists and athletes from around the world to arrive in Brazil has begun. Brazil is a week and a half away from hosting the biggest sporting event of the year: the Olympic Games in Rio.
Brazil is going through one of its worst moments and it seems that there is mood for parties. There is the political crisis, state of calamity, fear of zika, lousy infrastructure and many other disappointments.
The host country also has a real threat to its visitors: the cloning of credit and debit cards. Cloning cards is a business in which criminals will not waste no time, and the Olympics seems like the right event to expand their operations.
Brazil is the third country with the largest number of cloned cards after Mexico and the United States, according to recent research from Aite Group.
It is not uncommon to suffer multiple episodes or card cloning in one single year. All it is needed is swiping your credit or debit card in the wrong commercial establishment, or even only while visiting Brazil.
People have their cards cloned after purchasing in supermarkets, pharmacies, restaurants and in many cases even after paying their hotel rooms.
A popular tool to clone cards here in Brazil is the one called Chupa-Cabra, a Trojan created in 2010 and used by cybercriminals to infect data phones or ATMs.
Its use is simple: the object is placed at the ATMs or in any establishment that uses data phones to send and receive information related to transactions made with plastic.
This device copies the necessary data such as the credit card number, expiration date, service code and CVV.
In many cases, people’s cards are cloned while they withdraw money at banks, but it can also take place at stores all over the country. The worst is that it happens where you least expect.
You cannot trust anyone. Many Brazilians have told me that the place where cloning takes place more often is at gas stations. People need to fight for months to recover the stolen money. That is, of course, if they even find out.
Brazil, the cradle of the popular Chupa-Cabra, has the dataphones as one of the most widespread methods to clone cards. According to the Brazilian Central Bank, credit cards and debit cards account for 77% of all payments, which means that cybercriminals are always on the look for potential victims.
There are about 118 ATMs per 100,000 adults. This makes cybercriminals very happy, given the number of opportunities they have to achieve their goals. The crime is so massive that authorities do not have the exact number of cards that are cloned every year.
Foreigners are not the only focus for cybercriminals. Brazilians, especially the elderly are vulnerable to cyber crimes are over the country.
“They put a device on the ATM that did not copy the data, but retained the card. A typical scheme is one where a woman pretends that her card has gotten stuck inside the ATM along with that of the victim. She later calls the bank to provide the phone number of the victim in order to block the card.
On the other side of the line there is another person from the gang impersonating a bank worker to whom the victim provides all of her personal data, including the bank’s password.
After the person leaves the bank, criminals recover the card and, with the password information in hand, they manage to withdraw the victims money.
You can not trust anyone, you have to be careful and always keep your card where you can see it.
Internet theft is also common and much more difficult to control. Making purchases online, even via systems like Paypal, does not guarantee safety. People’s card are often cloned and used to buy alcohol, clothing, jewels and other items of the sort.
It is not uncommon to get surprised purchases on a credit card bill. Here in Brazil, it is very common and almost inevitable to have your card cloned.
Recommendations to consider:
– If you are planning to travel to Brazil, it is recommended to bring cash and change currency in exchange offices in large cities or at the airport.
– Never provide your card to anyone or give card information via email or mobile phone.
– In many restaurants, waiters bring the credit card machine to the table. If that option is not available, accompany the waiter to the cash register. It is a completely normal practice in Brazil. If the place does not inspire much confidence, pay with money.
– When the payment with credit card is done manually, as supposed to with a credit card machine, the potential for duplication of the card is larger.
– If you go to the ATM and it seems difficult to insert the card, try another ATM, because it probably means that there is a chupa-cabra device in the machine.
– If while placing the pin in the card machine shows the digits rather than asterisks, stop and do not finish entering the numbers. It is likely that they will use the pin to clone the card later.