Warning: Man lost over R20 000 after card was ‘cloned’

2008-09-18 00:00

A Pietermaritzburg man will be reimbursed with more than R20 000, which was stolen from his bank account after his card was mysteriously “cloned” by a swindler at an ATM.

Money was withdrawn from Ashwin Budhai’s Standard Bank account even though his ATM card has always been in his possession.

The amount of money withdrawn on the day exceeded the daily limit on his account and money was transferred across his different accounts and used for online shopping, even after he put a stop on his account.

Budhai’s problems started at an ATM in Victoria Road on Saturday.

“I was accosted by a person who overpowered me and requested that I cancel my transaction as my card was already in the machine. I cancelled the transaction, and as my card came out of the machine, he grabbed it and put it into the ATM himself. He then told me to put in my personal identification number, which I did. He then left the ATM and I carried out my transaction.”

After completing the transaction, Budhai said he checked his card three times to make sure it was his.

“I checked the card number and my signature on the reverse side.” Satisfied that everything matched, he left the ATM and did not report the incident to the bank.

On Monday, when Budhai tried to access his account on the Internet, he realised something was seriously amiss. “I went into my account to do an Internet transaction, but noticed that five debit transactions had gone through my account. I immediately phoned the tollfree number and put a stop on my account and was asked to go into my branch and lodge a fraud claim.”

A bank statement confirmed that various transactions were done through his linked account.

“The hacker got into my account and transferred funds from my current account into my credit card and saving accounts. He then went on a spending spree over the weekend, using both my accounts. By the time the stop was placed on my account, he had used up a huge amount of money,” Budhai said.

He said personnel at the bank were very helpful. However, he remains dumbstruck on how the “hacker” gained access to his account.

“How is it the bank did not pick up the numerous withdrawals that were going through my account, while I had my card with me?

“Secondly, how come the bank did not pick this up and query the withdrawals, because I have a limit on my account? I also expected the bank to stop all my accounts when I put a stop on my account on Monday, but the only account stopped was my current account.”

Budhai said he made his first call to the bank to put a stop on his account at 1.10 pm, but eight hours later at 9.10 pm, when he phoned the bank again, an operator told him that there were transactions going through his account at the time.

Budhai wants to warn the public. “People should be aware when making transactions at an ATM.

This incident not only traumatised me, but my family as well, and we had sleepless nights over this ordeal,” he said.

Standard Bank spokesman Erik Larsen confirmed that Budhai’s card was cloned. “We have resolved the matter and we will refund Budhai R21 293,32. The credit will appear in his account.

“Although card cloning at ATMs are not that common, they do happen, so customers need to be vigilant. They should not accept help from strangers and they should at all costs avoid entering their PIN while being observed by a stranger.”

sandilez@witness.co.za

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