Saturday, May 28, 2022

Police, banks probe international fraudsters who loot customer accounts

The Botswana Police Service and some commercial banks have joined hands in a bid to trace the whereabouts of criminal syndicates that are reportedly swiping millions of Pula from customers’ bank accounts in commercial banks.

However, some of the commercial banks have been accused of failing to report such cases for fear of losing business from the public.

The Telegraph understands that some commercial banks have found it prudent to assist the police with information to trace the whereabouts of these international fraudsters.

Bulgarian, British, German and South African nationals are reportedly leading the scam with most transactions done from their countries.

Some banks are cagey about sharing this information for fear of seeing a run on them by potential customers.

Fraud expert at Barclays Bank, Puseletso Seitei, confirmed that the bank has a number of cases that were reported to them by their customers in which their funds have been illegally withdrawn from their bank accounts.

Although unable to divulge the number of cases as well as the amount of money involved due to security reasons, Seitei said the bank is concerned about such illegal activities.

She said that in most instances the bank assists the police and other banks outside the country with information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits. She said some culprits, both in Botswana and South Africa, were arrested with information that the bank provided.

“Such transactions are either made from Germany or Britain as well as other countries,” said Seitei.

She stated that the bank’s policy is that they should always report such cases to the police at all times to assist law enforcement.
“Unfortunately I am not in a position to suggest that our competitors might not report such cases to the police,” Seitei said, adding that other banks would speak for themselves.

She revealed that they have equipped their auto teller machines throughout the country with sophisticated devices making it difficult to retrieve information from debit or credit cards in case a foreign device has been inserted into an ATM by criminals.
She appealed to card holders to take care of their bank cards at all time.

Detective superintendent Violet Sepabe of the Serious Crime Squad under Fraud section said that they are investigating about 97 cases of card fraud in which cash amounting to almost a million Pula has been withdrawn fraudulently from individuals’ bank accounts.

Unfortunately, she said, they have not yet arrested anyone in connection with such cases.

She advised card holders that they should always be vigilant and desist from the tendency of giving other individuals their card.
Director of the Bankers Association of Botswana, Wabile Mabusa, also indicated that they are concerned about such cases.
He said banks are doing their best to curb such crimes, adding that in most cases such fraudulent transactions are common during the festive season.

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