Polly Shortts card skimmer fined R40 000

2011-05-30 00:00

A 30-YEAR-OLD man from Pinetown, Sizwe Brian Mbhele, has been given a suspended sentence of five years’ imprisonment in addition to a fine of R40 000, of which half was suspended conditionally for five years, by a regional court magistrate for unlawful possession of a card “skimming device”.

Mbhele pleaded guilty before regional magistrate Jaco Jordaan to being in possession of the device at Mkondeni in Pietermaritzburg on August 1, 2009.

The “skimming device” is intended for use to overcome security measures that protect the data encoded on the magnetic strips of credit or other bank debit cards.

Most card-skimming devices are small enough to fit into the palm of the identity thief’s hand.

In a statement to court Mbhele said he was was approached by an acquaintance, Jabulani Mthembu, on July 31, 2009. who told him he had such a device.

“He explained that the purpose of the device was to gain access to a person’s debit card and swipe it through the device.

“Information would then be captured and a duplicate or cloned card could be manufactured that could be utilised to gain access to the card holder’s cash via an ATM machine,” he said.

He said Mthembu had offered to share the money they obtained if he assisted him. On August 1, 2009, he and Mthembu had gone to the Polly Shortts shopping centre at Mkondeni in Mbhele’s car.

The plan was for Mthembu to “distract” someone at an ATM and pass the card to him to swipe through the device.

“At the ATM Mthembu managed to gain access to a person’s card. He passed the card to me and I skimmed it through the device and handed it back to him.

“I then noticed that Mthembu and the person from whom he had taken the card were embroiled in an argument.

“I fled to my vehicle followed by Mthembu. We boarded the vehicle and sped off.

“We were subsequently detained by members of the SA Police Services whereupon the skimming device was found in my possession,” he said.

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