South Africa based Standard Bank Group has fallen victim to a fraud incident involving the withdrawal of cash from ATMs across Japan using fake credit cards and is expected to lose about R300m ($19m) from the incident.

It is important to note that the target of the fraud has been Standard Bank and there has been no financial loss for customers as no user data was compromised.

Quoting investigative sources, Japan’s national daily, The Mainichi, on Sunday reported that US$12,7m (R198m) in cash was stolen from some 1 400 ATMs in convenience stores across Japan in the space of two hours on 15 May.

Police suspect that the cash was withdrawn at ATMs using counterfeit credit cards containing account information leaked from a South African bank.

Police believe more than 100 people may be involved, according to the report, which quotes anonymous sources as saying that approximately 14 000 transactions were used to draw a maximum of 100 000 yen ($10,000) from seven bank ATMs.

According to Standard Bank’s Linstrom, the bank has taken swift action to contain the matter and the gross loss to the bank is estimated at R300m. This is prior to any potential recoveries that may serve to reduce the loss and the relevant authorities have been alerted. “Investigations are at a sensitive stage and further information will be provided as appropriate,” he added.

According to The Mainichi’s news report, ATM transaction data suggests that information from 1 600 credit cards was used. The paper reported that Japanese police are working with local authorities, through the International Criminal Police Organisation, to investigate the theft, including how the credit card information was leaked.