The number of skimming crimes in Russia skyrocketed to 362 in the first quarter of 2012 compared with 184 in the fourth quarter of 2011, Kommersant business daily reported on Friday, quoting a report from the Association of Europay’s Russian members.
The number of skimming crimes in Russia reached 397 for the whole year of 2011.
The report is based on data from the country’s top 20 banks, the association’s Vice President Evgeny Balezin told the paper.
Skimming is an electronic method of capturing a victim’s personal information for use by identity thieves. The skimmer is a small device that scans a credit card and stores the information contained in the magnetic strip. The electronically captured information is then used by the thief or sold to other criminals.
The increase is skimming crime is due to the rapid growth in ATMs in recent years and the lack of serious penalties for skimming in by the Criminal Code, Balezin added.
According to Bank of Russia data, there were 184,000 automatic teller machines (ATMs) in the country as of January 1, 2012.
“The problem is rather relevant, the number of skimming attempts has been growing from year to year,” TransCreditBank’s director of retail business support Alexei Kirichek told the paper.
Market experts estimate Russian banks losses from ATM skimming schemes at 1.378 billion rubles ($46.8 million) in 2011 compared with 558 million rubles ($18.9 million) in 2010 according to information from Visa and MasterCard.
Although skimming crime is rising sharply, the level of such crimes in Russia is much lower than in Europe, with just three skimming crimes in Russia per 1,000 ATMs against 19 crimes in Europe.
However, the situation could become worse in future if Russian banks do not take steps to combat the problem, Balezin said.