Latin American bankers and bank security experts agreed here Thursday on the need for both bank employees and customers - as well as prosecutors, judges, investigators and lawmakers - to receive better training in preventing, combating, pursuing and punishing financial fraud.

"If in the (19)80s young people were looking for receipts in restaurant trash bins and in the '90s (credit) cards were being forged, now it's something much more difficult. We're fighting against high technology, electronic transfers and payment via cellphones," said the vice president of American Express Global Security for Latin America and the Caribbean, Rick Cases-Ayala.

To that sophistication may be added the fact that "one of the idiosyncrasies of banking security in Latin America is that quick-wittedness and creativity of the Latino which at times is not channeled only into doing positive things," Miguel Angel Carlos, chairman of the Celaes 2011 event in Miami, told Efe.

Celaes, an annual conference organized by the Latin American Banking Federation, known as FELABAN, and the Florida International Bankers Association, is considered to be the most important regional meeting in the sector.

Different speakers agreed that purchases by telephone or via the Internet are the areas where financial fraud is growing the most, a situation that presents a challenge for the migration of Latin American banking into electronic services.

Electronic transactions at present comprise only 30 percent of the transactions made in the region.

Carlos, the director of prevention and corporate security for Banco Santander in Mexico, told Efe that banking in Latin America remains an immature and fast-growing market, which makes the consolidation of fraud control methods difficult.

Besides improving security, banks should "lobby to demand exemplary sentences for those who commit this type of fraud," said Odalys Fajardo-Guerrero, Regional Senior Director for Asset Protection and Security, Latin America Walmart International.

"We have the responsibility of influencing leaders so that they better define these types of crimes, impose stricter sentences and communicate more because at times the criminals benefit from the lack of dialogue" among law enforcement agencies, Fajardo-Guerrero said.