Woman loses R2 000 in ATM scam

2009-03-24 00:00

They dress the part, swipe your card and withdraw your hard earned money in broad daylight.

Video footage of the ATMs on the second floor of Northway Mall exposed an ATM card theft syndicate — and according to the mall’s management, this incident is a clear indication that they know what they’re doing.

The documented incident took place last week on Tuesday just after 4pm. Sandra Padayachee (28) and her 59-year-old mother went to the FNB ATM to withdraw money to buy groceries at the Spar downstairs.

During her attempted transaction, a man posing as a mall security guard — with the help of several others — allegedly distracted her and swopped her card with another one.

He then passed it to another man at the Absa ATM next to her, who then withdrew R2 000 from her bank account.

All of this took place in a matter of 10 minutes — and even then, Padayachee was still unsure what had just happened.

“You’ll see it all on the video,” she said. “You can see who was involved and how they distracted us. You will see them passing the card. They ambushed me,” she said.

“[The security guard] kept telling me to ‘hurry up there was a long queue’. Everyone kept talking and telling me to hurry.”

Padayachee, who was still quite shaken by the incident when The Witness spoke to her, said the next thing she knew, the crowd was gone — and so was her card.

When the police arrived, she declined to open a case, despite the fact that the suspects could be clearly identified in the video footage. “There was so much happening … but they said I can come and open a case whenever I’m ready.”

Northway centre manager Hassan Mea said the mall management suspect that everyone seen in the 10 minute-long video played a part in the theft.

“There’s a guy on the phone who had probably been talking to someone watching our centre security guard. The guy wearing the prison warden clothes saw this happening but just walked away …

“It’s like they were all dressed the way that they were so that the victim wouldn’t suspect them.

Who’s going to suspect a security guard, or a prison warden, or someone who’s dressed nicely?

“They target vulnerable people,” he said. “People who are alone, females, old people … We always call the police when we pick up on suspicious people, but they always disappear soon after, so it’s difficult to catch them.”

According to Mea, this is not the first time an incident of this nature has taken place at the mall.

Mea recalled an incident last year when an elderly woman who had already entered her pin into the same ATM was told to use the Absa ATM by someone who then withdrew money from her account at the FNB ATM when she did so.

The mall’s management advised people not to allow anyone to help them withdraw money from ATMs.

angelo@witness.co.za

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