Bank card cloners jailed for robbing elderly
TWO men, convicted of cloning the bank cards of elderly and illiterate Port Elizabeth residents, have been sentenced to seven years' imprisonment by the city's specialised commercial crimes court.
Shaun de Vries and Litha Ntuli were arrested outside Port Elizabeth in May 2010 after they were found to be in possession of nine cloned bank cards with the PIN numbers of clients printed on them.
Police had received information that a Standard Bank ATM at the Hypersave in Commercial Road was being targeted by a card cloning syndicate.
Officers installed a camera at the ATM and then staked out the spot for a couple of days. Shortly before midnight on May 31 2010 a vehicle pulled up to the ATM at the Hypersave.
De Vries and Ntuli alighted from the vehicle and spent a lengthy period of time at the ATM. The policeman assigned to the spot became suspicious and called for back-up.
The men were arrested while travelling towards Uitenhage during the early hours of June 1 2010.
Though there were four occupants in the car, only De Vries and Ntuli, seated in the back, were found in possession of the cloned cards.
The card details on the front did not match the data encoded on the magnetic strips at the back of the cards, meaning the cards were cloned, the state argued in court.
State prosecutor Clint Jacobs said the code on the magnetic strip should always match the information printed on the face of the card.
The cards were also found to have been gift cards, mostly from Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Musica.
"Bank information cannot be contained on gift cards. It is against the law," Jacobs argued.
More than R7,000 in cash, withdrawn using the cloned cards, was recovered. An audit trail confirmed that this money was withdrawn shortly before midnight on May 31 at the same time that video footage captured the accused carrying out the transactions.
The accused had apparently targeted elderly or illiterate people by assisting them to draw cash, at the same time gaining access to the victim's PIN number. Then, when the victims were not looking, the accused would skim their cards using a hand-held card cloning machine.
Using the latest technology, the information contained on the back of the original bank card is copied to the magnetic strip of a gift card, easily purchased at any retail outlet. This gives criminals full access to the victim's funds.
One victim, George Allnut , who had R3,500 fraudulently withdrawn from his account, said his bank card had been in his possession during each unlawful transaction.
Allnut is elderly and rarely leaves his home.
Meanwhile, another victim, identified only as M Maqopo, said she was illiterate and did not report her suspicions of fraudulent activity to the police at the time.
De Vries and Ntuli were convicted, as a syndicate, of stealing more than R12,000 from the accounts of Port Elizabeth residents in a matter of days.
They were sentenced to an effective seven years behind bars.