Criminals tap into payWave

THIEVES in Ipswich are exploiting contactless credit card technology in order to wirelessly pick people's pockets.

Fraud and Cybercrime Group Acting Superintendent Detective Peter Brewer said businesses needed to be more vigilant in monitoring credit card purchases.

"Staff should not be afraid to check a person's credit card," he said.

"If the name doesn't seem to match up with the person using the card, employees need to make queries about it."

He spoke after a 44-year-old stole a Raceview man's credit card and used it to purchase about $480 worth of goods.

At Ipswich Magistrates Court this week, Mark Clifford Butt pleaded guilty to entering a premise to commit an indictable offence and 10 charges of fraud.

Police prosecutor senior constable Megan O'Brien said Butt had broken into a ute that had been parked out the front of a house.

The owner of the vehicle had left his wallet inside the unlocked car, which had contained his payWave credit card.

Butt took the card and used it to make 10 purchases within a few hours on December 17.

The transactions, which ranged from $27.40 to $99, amounted to $482.60. He was picked up by police four days later.

Butt told police he had grabbed the wallet because he thought there was money in it.

When he discovered there was no cash, he took the payWave-credit card instead.

Defence lawyer Matthew Fairclough said Butt had no money when he took the wallet and that the offence was opportunistic.

He said his client suffered from depression but was now employed as a gardener.

Magistrate Donna McCallum noted Butt had a "significant" criminal history and was on parole during the offence.

Butt was convicted and sentenced to nine months in jail, suspended for 18 month and ordered to pay restitution.

Meanwhile Det Brewer said the theft should serve as a warning for Ipswich card holders to be more careful.

Contactless credit cards - such as Visa's payWave - let people make purchases of less than $100 without needing a signature or PIN.

Det Brewer said the technology potentially made it easier for thieves to get at people's cash.

"It means people have to be more careful and exercise some common sense in protecting their cards," he said. "In this case, the victim should have thought twice about leaving his wallet in an unlocked car."

What to do if your card is lost or stolen?

Tell your card issuer immediately. If you think unauthorised transactions have been made, tell your bank or other business that your account is with. If you are not happy with how they handle the problem, contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.


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