Banks clients lost R180m in fraud scam

SOUTH African banking customers were scammed out of R180-million in 2010 alone.

This astronomical figure was up from R40-million in the previous year, the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court heard yesterday.

General manager of commercial crime at the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) Susan Potgieter testified that 1500 complaints about phishing were received in 2009.

Potgieter also revealed that in the last three to four years South Africa had alternated between third and fourth place among countries with the highest incidents of phishing - a sophisticated crime in which criminals trick customers into disclosing confidential banking details before raiding their accounts.

Giving evidence before magistrate Vincent Ratshibvumo, Potgieter said insiders were instrumental in the effective commission of the crime.

"Criminals are colluding with people who have expert knowledge to circumvent measures put in place by banks to safeguard their systems," Potgieter explained.

"This is impacting negatively on consumer confidence."

She was giving evidence yesterday in the pre-sentencing hearing of Mbokodana Khoza.

Khoza, 32, a former Vodacom technician, pleaded guilty to defrauding 10 Vodacom customers of about R380,000 by duplicating their SIM cards.

Khoza and his alleged accomplices - named as Mbusi Bhengu, Gregory Oduore and Thabiso Gwebuza on court documents - intercepted SMS communication meant for the 10 customers, allowing them to gain access to confidential banking information.

Khoza carried out his scam between June and July 2009 before he was arrested on July 9 of that year and was charged with contravening Section 49 (1) of Act 70 of 2002.

He pleaded guilty on February 7 this year.

Sentencing was postponed.

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