Alleged card sharks in court

2010-06-24 07:58

Four people arrested in White River, Mpumalanga, for alleged

card-cloning are expected to appear in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court today,

Mpumalanga police said.

The four, who were arrested on Tuesday, would face charges of fraud

and corruption, said Captain Leonard Hlathi.

Their appearance comes after six others, including a police

officer, were arrested over the weekend. The two groups are allegedly part of a

sophisticated card-cloning syndicate.

The six appeared in the Nelspruit Magistrates Court on Monday on

charges of fraud, corruption and possession of a stolen firearm.

They are White River detective Constable Zakhele Mkhatshwa (27),

Mpendulo Shiba (25), Thabo Tsela (22), Bongani Nyerenda (23), Dennis De Beer (30)

and Dumisani Mkhatshwa (33).

The group was arrested after a member of the public reported

unauthorised transactions on her account after she used her card at a music

store in Nelspruit.

Police investigations led to a store cashier, who was allegedly

found in possession of a card skimming device. He then led police to two other

suspects and two more cloning devices were allegedly found in their cars.

Two more accused were arrested in Kanyamazane, where police

confiscated a 9mm pistol, two laptops, one card re-printer, several cloned cards

from South Africa and other countries.

A Fifa cash access card, which can be used at Fifa-accredited

businesses, was also recovered, with a fake ID photo on it.

These five led investigators to police officer Mkhatshwa. He was

released on R5 000 bail shortly before the group appeared in court on Monday,

because he found himself a lawyer immediately after his arrest on


Prosecutor Tobie Steyn said police were still conducting

investigations after “numerous” credit and debit cards belonging to World Cup

visitors were recovered from the accused. He said one of the cards had a R53 000

transaction made on it.

The card cloning bust has prompted police to warn the public and

visitors to be vigilant when using their bank cards, as they had noted an

increase in card cloning in Mpumalanga.

Hlathi said: “Skimming occurs most frequently at retail outlets

that process credit cards for payments, particularly bars, restaurants and

petrol stations.

“The modus operandi involves a corrupt employee who swipes a card

of a customer for a transaction, then skims it in a small handheld electronic

device that scans and stores the card data from the magnetic strip.

“The employee then hands over the card to the criminals he or she

is working with. They then fraudulently download the data to their equipment,”

he said.

After this is completed, criminals then download the information of

a customer’s card to other cards, such as gift or other shop cards with a

magnetic strip.

“When all is said and done, they then withdraw money from your

account using these cards,” Hlathi said.

Any card crime can be reported to the nearest police station or by

calling 10111 or crime stop 08600 1011.

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