Durban NGO rocked by debit-order scam

A Durban based non--profit organisation says it is investigating “unauthorised” debit orders that are being taken from people’s bank accounts in its name.
A Durban based non--profit organisation says it is investigating “unauthorised” debit orders that are being taken from people’s bank accounts in its name.
Image: South African Reserve Bank

Non-profit organisation Ubuntu Community Chest says it is trying to get to the bottom of “unauthorised” debit orders that are being taken from people’s bank accounts in its name.

All the account holders bank are with Standard Bank and the amounts are all less than R100‚ executive director Gordon McDonald told this publication.

“The first one came to light in August 2016‚ when we received a complaint from an account holder. We thought it was just a mistake and we referred him back to his bank.

“But since then‚ and particularly in the last 12 months‚ we have been getting more calls from irate people accusing us of stealing their money. This is not true; it is a fraudulent operator stealing money through unauthorised debit orders.

“But we are told that when the customer calls Standard Bank‚ they are given our contact information as the company making the deductions.”

McDonald said the amounts being deducted ranged from R69 to R99 a month.

The debit order reference number is Ubuntu UCM.

“While the Ubuntu Community Chest fundraises via debit orders through First National Bank‚ our reference number does not start with ‘Ubuntu UCM’‚" he said.

“In one instance‚ the caller complained that the debit order bounced and the account holder got charged a wack for that. Some of these people are unemployed. Some have gone back on their statements and discover the deductions go back two years.”

He said many people were understandably irate by the time they called the Durban-based NGO.

“They are not eager to supply us with their contact details and even less eager to give us their bank account details. We do not blame them for this‚ but without these details we can take the investigation no further.

“We have engaged with First National Bank and Standard Bank. FNB has been unable to assist us and we are presently in a complaint resolution process with Standard Bank‚ but we have had no success in identifying the perpetrator of this fraud.

“If this is not resolved‚ we will have to go to the ombudsman. As an NPO reliant on public goodwill‚ we cannot afford to have our good reputation tarnished with allegations like these.”

One victim‚ Secunda-based training officer Daniel Nyathela‚ said that he demanded - and his bank had agreed - to reverse a debit order of R99.

“I only picked it up because I carefully go through my statements. These fraudsters know that banks do not send out SMS notifications for amounts less than R100‚" said Nyathela.

"If people don’t check their statements‚ they don’t know they are being robbed.”

Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom said: “We have not come across this so [we] will investigate.”

He said he would provide further information once it was available.

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