Contactless cards used to commit crimes

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:43 24/01/2014

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A Palmerston North judge has questioned the security of contactless credit cards after two men admitted using them to commit crimes.

People have already voiced their concerns about the new line of cards, which are now being issued by banks in place of traditional credit cards.

People are able to simply touch the card on a terminal for payments under $80, bypassing the need for a Pin or signature.

Some groups have raised the issue of skimming devices being used to turn thieves into hi-tech electronic pick-pockets.

However, two Manawatu men have admitted using the cards to steal in a cruder way.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday, Allan Reginald Koia and Aswad Mcleod pleaded guilty to a range of dishonesty charges after they both managed to use someone else's contactless card to purchase goods.

In Mcleod's case, he was on parole after being jailed for other dishonesty offences - as well as being on bail after breaching his parole conditions - when he stole a contactless card belonging to a family member he was living with.

He then went on to buy $1300 worth of goods.

Defence lawyer Phillip Drummond said Mcleod would have had to use the card "numerous" times to rack up that figure, as the card had an $80 limit.

The family member read her victim impact statement to the court, and said she had taken a risk supporting and providing for Mcleod after his release from prison.

But her kindness was repaid by an abuse of trust, she said.

The theft had caused her and her family financial stress.

"We live on a tight budget and when we want something we have to go without something else."

She was now taking counselling to help her get over the offending, but she was still having trouble sleeping in the house at night.

There was a possibility she would sell the house, as she no longer felt safe in it, she said.

Koia, on the other hand, managed to get his hands on a payWave card which was stolen from a car. Both he and a younger person he was with made a combined 10 purchases with the card, totalling $223.52 of goods, from service stations and supermarkets. He only stopped when a transaction declined.

At Koia's sentencing, Judge Gregory Ross said it was the first time he had encountered people using contactless cards for thefts.

"The criminal fraternity are often early adopters of new technology."

He said there were obvious security issues with the cards, and the monetary limit should possibly be looked at.

He remanded Koia to reappear at another date, while Mcleod - who had also pleaded guilty to a charge of theft and four charges of breaching parole - was sentenced to seven months' imprisonment and ordered to repay all money he took.

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- Manawatu Standard

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