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SASSA warns against fraud bank notes

2017-07-12 12:30

More than 17 million social grant recipients are at risk of becoming fraud victims with criminals targeting pay points. WATCH

Pietermaritzburg police are investigating a new South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) fraud case each day.

City police station spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said she could not supply The Witness with exact numbers, but said Sassa fraud cases were quite common.

“It gets worse when it’s pay-out days. A lot of people complain about their pensions or grants being withdrawn in other towns whilst they’re here in Pietermaritzburg with their cards,” said Khonjelwayo.

Mbizeni Mdlalose, acting senior KZN Sassa communications manager, admitted that fraud cases were reported to them quite often.

“We investigate cases and there are various findings which include negligence by the beneficiaries and fraud. We are yet to find Sassa officials that have been implicated on this kind of fraud,” he said.

A local pensioner has opened a fraud case after his pension, which accrued over about 10 months, disappeared from his Sassa account.

The 66-year-old man, who asked not to be named in fear of victimisation, told The Witness that he visited Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape from June last year and had left his R1 700 monthly pension to accumulate in his Sassa account.

When he checked his account at the beginning of the year, he realised it was empty and when he inquired about this at the Sassa offices in Lusikisiki, he was told his pension had been withdrawn somewhere in Durban.

He visited the Pietermaritzburg Sassa and Post Office offices a couple of times trying to follow up the matter only to realise last month that his January, February and March pensions had also been withdrawn somewhere in Richmond.

“A Sassa official told me that it definitely had to be an inside job and that it happened quite often.”

The man said when he went to open the case, the police told him they opened about 20 Sassa-related fraud cases per week.

While Khonjelwayo confirmed that police were investigating a fraud case in the matter, Mdlalose said reports of 20 cases a week were exaggerated.

“It’s a serious matter that the public needs to be aware of and the government needs to act on this,” said the pensioner.

“The police said they have a team of detectives who were trying to work closely with Sassa officials to try and trace these in-house jobs. These people are apparently manufacturing new Sassa cards using our information and numbers, and their cards are able to bypass the PIN system,” he said.

He said he has had no joy dealing with several Sassa officials, as they “don’t know if they’re coming or going”.

“This is not a joke. These people are stealing old people’s pensions. This is manipulation of old people’s money from inside Sassa ...” he said.

Sassa and Sapo sign accord

Mdlalose said Sassa and the SA Post Office (Sapo) recently signed a service level agreement (SLA) that will serve as a guide on how the partnership will be managed and it also outlines the expectations for both parties.

He said that it also clearly states what processes need to be followed when payment disputes are lodged by a beneficiary.

He said if there are any disputes regarding payment, the social grant recipient should go to the nearest Sassa office. The beneficiary must submit a copy of their ID and an affidavit from the police reflecting a case number as proof that a case has been opened, because such matters are treated as fraud cases.

“Sassa will then forward these documents on behalf of the beneficiary to Sapo, for preliminary investigation, which takes between seven to 21 days, to determine liability, whether it’s Sapo or Sassa.

“Where beneficiaries were auto-migrated to new Sassa cards, and defrauded, the beneficiary visits our Sassa local office and is advised to open a private bank account and a completed Annexure C form to be captured on the Sassa system. This is to prevent the next month’s grant going again into the defrauded account, while investigations are still on.

“On conclusion of the investigation, the beneficiary will be refunded if proven beyond reasonable doubt that the withdrawal didn’t happen because of his negligence.

“We also urge social grants beneficiaries to keep their card and PIN in a safe place and not share them with anyone,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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