Friends, I am sad to report that the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannseburg, South Africa is a confirmed site of credit card fraud.
My credit card was cloned either at The Body Shop or at Frasier's (a shop in the new part of the airport selling handbags and wallets). It was then used to make fraudluent purchases of $400 at a watch shop, $1,250 at a furniture shop, and $1.05 at a cable tv operator (watching porn with my stolen credit card info, I imagine. Fuckers.).
Please excuse my language. I'm pretty pissed off.
I suspect my card was cloned at Frasier's. Why? Because I always buy at The Body Shop when I am at the Joburg airport. I bought some creams there when we were on our way to Brazil 2 weeks ago. I remember the vendor. She was nice. No unauthorized charges appeared after that initial purchase.
Then, while in Brasil, I had the bad luck of losing my wallet while out for drinks one night with Chocolate, our best man. I went to get Rico's wallet from my purse, and probably knocked mine out and onto the floor in the process. It was dark and crowded in the Bar Informal, and we didn't notice my wallet was gone until the next day.
Since it is Rio, and since I am not an otária, I had cleaned out my wallet on day one of our Brasil trip. I took out everything but the essentials - driver's license, copy of passport, 2 credit cards and my health insurance card.
When I realized my wallet was gone, Rico and I immediately called to cancel the credit cards. On one, there were no bogus charges. On the other, someone had spent R$400 (about US$180) at a pharmacy. We entered a fraud claim, and will have to dispute the charge at the end of the month.
While I was pissed about losing my wallet - I *never* lose things, to me it is a red flag that I am under unnecessary stress - I was at least satisfied that the loss had been minimal.
I switched to using my backup US credit card, which has a very high limit but is a pain in the ass because they charge 3% on all international purchases. I avoid using the card because they will not budge on that service charge, and my other cc gave me a much better deal for foreign transactions.
Anyhow, fast forward to me in the Joburg airport on our way back to Maputo, armed only with my backup 3% charging credit card. Since I lost my wallet in Brasil, I had to buy, well, another wallet. I remembered seeing one that I'd liked a few months earlier, made of ostrich skin. Rico and I found the store - Frasier's - and I selected a beautiful pink wallet.
After buying my replacement wallet, I went to The Body Shop and purchased some body butter since I had absent-mindedly left the one I bought 2 weeks prior in my carry-on luggage and it was seized at the security check (over 100ml. I should know better).
Anyhow, the girl who helped me at The Body Shop the second time around was the same one who helped me on our way to Brasil. She was very sweet. I know this is no guarantee, but I just don't feel she was the one who commited fraud on my account.
Now the Frasier's people? They are the ones I like for the cloning. I've never purchased there before, and the first time I do, I have problems. Coincidence? Who knows. I think not.
Either way, beware. I only used my backup credit card two times after my wallet was stolen, so the fraudulent charges either came from The Body Shop or Frasier's. Please be careful in the Joburg airport. I know these type of problems are common in the Nelspruit Crossings and the Riverside Mall, but to have it happen in the secure section of an international airport is surprising.
Please be careful in your travels. Use cash whenever possible, and keep a good relationship with your card company. Take out fraudulent purchase insurance if this is an option. Call and cancel your card immediately if you suspect you've lost your card or it has been cloned or stolen.
I have certainly learned my lesson. Cash is King.