Garage fleeced in card scam

2014-08-20 00:00

A SYNDICATE has fleeced a Pietermaritzburg garage, making off with over R100 000 worth of diesel in less than five days.

At least five of the syndicate members, two of whom are women, were arrested on Monday night after the owner set up a sting operation.

They allegedly cloned stolen fleet management cards to buy diesel at the garage in Scottsville. By the time management realised that something was amiss, the syndicate had already taken R102 000 worth of diesel in four days. The owner of the garage, who declined to be named and asked that his garage not be identified, said the big question was how such large fraudulent transactions were not detected by banks.

“If you have transactions of R10 000 a day, your bank will call you and ask, is this a legitimate transaction or not … this bank did not detect this for four days. I am facing serious financial constraints … My cash flow will be affected because I am now short of 7 000 litres worth of diesel,” he said.

He said he understood that somewhere in Point Road there are people who clone cards. The syndicate then allegedly buys those cards and uses them for fraud.

He said the bogus fuel buyers came to the garage on Thursday in a silver Polo and claimed to be working for a construction company that needed to buy diesel for equipment on a site. He was not at the office at the time.

“They swiped the card and the transaction went through. They said a truck would come by in 30 minutes to load the diesel into containers. They bought 1 000 litres of diesel at the value of R13 710,” he said.

They returned on the Friday and again swiped the card for R17 000, on Saturday for R27 000, on Sunday for 27 600 and on Monday for R18 400.

“Seeing all these transactions [on Monday morning], I thought to myself there is something very wrong here … they bought thousands of litres … I do not care what you are doing, you cannot go through 1 000 litres of diesel a day.”

The owner set up a sting operation on Monday and in the evening, some of the syndicate members arrived and were arrested, while others were arrested near Northway Mall.

He was very unhappy with the role played by the banks. “Our machines have a ‘hot’ card scanner that should have blocked the transaction before it went through.”

SAPS spokesperson Thulani Zwane said five people aged 26 and 35 were arrested for fraud and theft, and are expected to appear at the Pietermaritzburg court today.

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