fraud syndicate bust

Vusi Ndlovu

Vusi Ndlovu

Police have cracked a major fraud syndicate that deals in cloning store cards and using them to buy clothes at chain stores.

The scam is said to have cost unsuspecting customers thousands of rand. The crooks have been purchasing goods using the duplicated cards leaving customers to settle debts they did not incur themselves.

The man alleged to be the mastermind of the scam is an employee at Edgars store in Eastgate Mall. He is said to be working at the store's card department.

The scam is allegedly operated from two houses in Soweto, and the victims are card-holders within the Edcon Group, which include Edgars, CNA, Jet and Boardmans.

However, hardest hit were account holders at Edgars and Jet.

Two Soweto men, Dumisani Ngobeni, 31, and Mapinkis Paul Gundwane, both from Tshiawelo, appeared in the Germiston regional court on fraud charges.

Quoting a source from a police docket, prosecutor Thabo Motlhamme said Ngobeni allegedly made duplicates of clients' cards which they sold to "strikers" - people who go on shopping sprees after buying duplicated cards.

A source explained to Sowetan how the scam operated: "There are people who work at the shops' clients service departments. They target customers with buying power or credit limit of between R3000 and R7000.

"The main man steals customer information and blank cards. He then takes them somewhere where there is a machine to print the details of the account holders onto the blank cards.

"They have their clients - the "strikers", who buy these cards for R400 each. They then go on a shopping spree countrywide using duplicated Edgars and Jet cards. The bill will go to the original card owner."

Motlhamme could not say how many counts of fraud the men were facing, only that investigations were continuing.

The case was postponed to March 30 for trial. The accused have not been asked to plead and have also not applied for bail.

They were remanded in custody.