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CCTV footage shows ‘friends’ withdrawing victim’s money

Students bust for siphoning friend’s NSFAS funds

Some students funded by NSFAS say they are struggling with new pay app. File photo.
Some students funded by NSFAS say they are struggling with new pay app. File photo.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Two students are facing a fraud charge after they allegedly “cloned” their friend’s sim card to steal her NSFAS allowance from her online account portal. 

Elise Manganye, a student from a college in Soweto, lost R21,680 in April, days after the money was deposited in her eZaga account. eZaga is one of four digital banking services that have partnered with NSFAS to assist beneficiaries (students) to transact without the use of the middleman such as universities. The beneficiary would make a withdrawal request on the app and a pin to use at the ATM would then be sent to the registered sim card.  

Manganye told Sowetan that she would occasionally share sim cards with her friends and she was not aware that they had made a sim swap on her registered sim card for eZaga. 

Last month, Sowetan wrote about her plight of losing her funds. The money was meant to cover accommodation, food and travelling costs. Other students took their frustrations of suspicious withdrawals from their accounts to social media.

Manganye said she was called by eZaga management and the police to view the footage. 

“When I got to the station, they showed me the tape and I realised that the people who withdrew my money were my friends. In the footage, you can see them withdrawing the money at a Nedbank ATM. I had never shown them my details, but the management explained that they might have also got my money through a sim swap. These people are friends, we hang out every day and I understand how easily it must have been to swap my sim card,” said Manganye.  

"The app requires a password before it opens, but it also gives you the option to forget password, and it would send an OTP [one-time pin] to your cell number and then you can make a new password and you get access to the account and your money,” she added.

eZaga confirmed investigating Manganye’s matter and seeing the alleged withdrawals, including the purchases of airtime. The company also said the application’s security measures could not protect students who did not keep their devices safe or those who disclosed their details to third parties.

“It is possible that the student herself was the victim of fraud on her device without her knowledge as the system is prevented from processing any transactions not linked to the relevant cellphone number, pin code and account itself,” said eZaga CEO Saud Ally at the time. 

Yesterday, Ally confirmed to Sowetan that they assisted Manganye to open a case of fraud after the company obtained video footage showing Manganye’s friends withdrawing money at the same ATM, day and time her funds disappeared from her account. 

“The matter is now with the police. We have handed over all the evidence we have. We facilitated and helped the client in question and we are working with the police to clear the matter. Our company has got bad publicity and now we want to clear this matter. I also want to make it clear that we are one of the four service providers and, unfortunately, our name is always drawn even when the complainant is not our client,” said Ally.

Gauteng police spokesperson Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi said yesterday she needed more time to search for information about the case as she was unable to access their system.

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