A man looks at magazines near an ATM at a convenience store in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 7, 2016. Japanese banks that lost some 1.8 billion yen ($16.5 million) when fake overseas cards were used at convenience store ATMs are scrambling to combat such fraud. The illegal withdrawals were made in just a few hours on May 15 at more than 1,000 ATMs in 17 prefectures (states), according to Japanese media reports. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Japan: Banks reduce withdrawal limits at some ATMs after $16.5m ‘fraud incident’

AFTER losing some 1.8 billion yen (US$16.5 million) in a massive automatic teller machine (ATM) ‘fraud incident’ last month, Japanese banks are now scrambling to consolidate security measures.

Two banks that operate ATMs in convenience stores are moving to combat such fraud and have now reduced the withdrawal limit for customers using non-Japanese cards.

Japanese media have reported that the illegal withdrawals took place on May 15. The thefts occurred in 17 prefectures.

Japan: 100 ‘hackers’ steal nearly $13 million from convenience store ATMs

The reports say fake cards from a South African bank were used, and police have arrested three suspects so far.

Seven Bank spokesman Masatoshi Ogihara said the bank is also strengthening monitoring and cooperation with police, but declined to provide specifics.

Authorities believe the money was withdrawn using fake credit cards with duplicated information that was leaked from a bank in South Africa.

Police estimate at least 100 people were involved in coordinating the high-tech robbery.

In the attack, each person on average withdrew the daily maximum of 100,000 yen (US$913), in 14,000 transactions involving 1,600 credit cards.

The group mainly targeted ATM cash machines in 7-11 convenience stores, as they accept foreign credit cards.

The bank said it was a “victim of a sophisticated, coordinated fraud incident”.

“This involved the withdrawal of cash using a small number of fictitious cards at various ATMs in Japan,” it said in a statement, adding customers were assured that they did not suffer any financial losses as a result of the attack.

Additional reporting by Associated Press