EVANDER – The Evander Regional Court found a former toll gate booth operator guilty of more than a thousand charges relating to card skimming and fraud on Monday, 22 October.
Thabo Simon Ntuli (24) was accused and found guilty of skimming the bank cards of unsuspected motorists using the Leandra N17 toll gates.
He worked at the Leandra Plaza from the beginning of May 2016 until he was caught with a skimming device in his possession on 16 September 2016.
Skimming devices or electronic card readers are devices designed to read the magnetic data encoded on cards and to store the information.
The stored information is then downloaded with the use of computer software programs which can be encoded onto another card.
Duplicate bank cards were manufactured with the captured data and bank card numbers which Ntuli had skimmed.
These duplicate forged bank cards were used for fraudulent transactions.
Ms Annelie Steyn, senior state prosecutor, said it is believed that Ntuli was part of a syndicate that would snatch up the personal information of a card holder, forged new cards and then spend as much money on that card as possible before the card is reported to the bank.
The Home Improvement store in Nelspruit suffered such a loss with people using these fraudulent cards to buy stock, that the business eventually had to close its doors.
A fraud investigator from First National Bank identified 17 FNB bank accounts where fraudulent transactions took place.
These were all tendered or presented for payment for toll fees at the Leandra toll gate between 11 May 2016 and 18 July 2016.
Fraud investigators from Standard Bank, Absa, Wesbank, Nedbank, Investec Bank City bank and Standerton Bank Fleet identified magnetic data extracted from bank cards that were presented at the Leandra toll gates.
FNB estimated their loss on these 17 cards at R200 000 and a potential loss of a million Rand on 65 other cards.
Absa said their actual loss was R300 000 on credit cards and R1,3-million on fleet cards.
They estimated a further potential loss of R1,3-million.
The police’s commercial crime unit headed the investigation against Ntuli.
Evidence presented in court showed that it took the syndicate between two and four weeks to manufacture the duplicate bank cards.
Although Ntuli admitted to having the card skimming device in his possession when he was caught, he pleaded not guilty on many of the charges that were tediously explained and analysed in court.
Regional Magistrate Ms Charmaine La Marque eventually found Ntuli guilty on 1 151 charges that include 701 charges of fraud and the rest are related to technical detail such as the theft of data, conspiracy to commit fraud or theft and possessing a card skimming device.
Ntuli will be sentenced on Monday, 26 November.