Tag: theft

By Malibongwe Dayimani for News24

Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student Sibongile Mani was found guilty of theft in connection with R14-million accidentally credited to her account by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in 2017.

The East London Regional Court’s magistrate, Twanette Olivier, on Monday found Mani guilty of stealing R818 000 of the funds.

The court dismissed Mani’s version that she had no intention to deprive NSFAS of its money and that she had no knowledge of the specification of the loan agreement she had with NSFAS.

She was only entitled to a R1 400 food allowance and was accused of failing to report when R14-million was instead credited to her erroneously. She chose to embark on a spending spree.

Addressing Mani, Olivier said: “These actions speak of someone whom the court finds knows the system, how it is implemented and most specifically how it may be bypassed.

“It [the theft] was well-orchestrated. Your actions do not speak of a person who lacks knowledge. The evidence of each witness was clear and direct. Each witness testified on the certain aspect of the process followed by WSU, NSFAS and Intellimali per duties and tasks. Witness testimonies were further collaborated by documented evidence which was placed on record in detail.”

Olivier said she found the testimonies by State witnesses truthful and honest, and that the State’s version was reliable.

“The court finds that the accused’s version of events, in so far as it differs from that of State witnesses, to be unsatisfactory and false.

“No other inference can be drawn by the court, other than that the accused knew very well that her actions were unlawful, and the only other inference to be drawn is that she had the required intent to commit theft as required when applying the subjective test.

“This is said with reference to how she [Mani] managed to plan and orchestrate her unlawful actions with regards to times, places amounts and cities. Her actions do not reflect those of a person acting without intentions.

“Therefore, based on the above, Ms Mani you are found guilty as charged to theft in the amount R818 000.”

Mani was arrested in May 2018 by the Serious Commercial Crime Unit of the Hawks.

The case of theft was opened by Intellimali – a Cape Town-based company responsible for distributing the NSFAS funds to students.

She is accused of failing to report the error and embarked on a spending spree, blowing more than R800 000 in 73 days.

The State charged that between 1 June, when the money landed in her account, until 13 August, when NSFAS found out about the error, she had spent an average of R11 000 per day.

She ostensibly used the money at 48 merchants in Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Gauteng.

Olivier told Mani the receipts of her expenditure indicated that “you had definitely planned per day as to how much you can spend per day in as many places as possible on any given date.”

She added that it was remarkable how Mani managed to spend around R20 000 a day at merchants across the country. all in one day.

On perusal of Mani’s expenditure records, she spent:

  • R178 923 at Discount Supermarket in Fleet Street, East London;
  • R174 631 at Checkers Hyper supermarket in Centurion;
  • R107 255 at Checkers Nonesi Mall in Komani;
  • R68 116 at Shoprite on Caxton Street in East London; and
  • R17 006 at Shoprite in George.

“What is, however, remarkable is that the accused managed to use the credit on one specific day at various outlets in various provinces on the same given date,” said Olivier.

Olivier noted that, on 1 June, all the spending occurred in East London and one transaction in George.

On perusing 3 June 2017, Olivier said Mani spent the money in East London, Komani, Thembalethu and Mthatha.

“9 June is even more remarkable as spending took place in East London, Komani and Centurion. 11 June spending took place in East London, Centurion, Benoni Lake.”

Prohibited items were also bought in Cradock, and included: 13 backpack trolleys, nine bath sheets and other accessories, eight bin items, 11 blankets, various blenders, body shots for men, ladies bras, an unaccountable amount of wine, from white wine, rose, semi-sweet, varying from 750ml to 5 litre boxes, cake plates, calculators, four hair straighteners, cook wear, cupcake makers, cutlery, dinner sets, 13 extensions cords, eight frying pans, five hairdryers, various handbags, six steam irons, iTunes gift cards, 24 jackets, 12 cordless kettles, track tops, ladies tops, 11 microwaves, framed mirrors, cigarettes, pants, Checkers gift cards, shoes, sleep sets, 10 ladies sleep items, slow cookers and eyelashes.

Olivier noted the evidence before the court included seven pages which recorded the expenditure on airtime from Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.

Sentencing is set for 8 March 2022.

 

By Lwandile Bhengu for News24

The Absa engineer and his wife charged with stealing more than R100-million from the bank have been granted bail of R50 000 each.

Dressed more modestly than when they first appeared, Xolela Masebeni and Athembile Mpani made their third appearance in the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.

Masebani, a specialist engineer who worked in Sandton and earned R52 000 per month, is accused of stealing R103-million from the bank and allegedly transferring the money into six different bank accounts over four months between September and December 2021.

Mpani, who is also the mother of Masebani’s three children, is alleged to have benefitted from the money. The couple face charges of theft, fraud and contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

In bail judgment, Magistrate Phillip Venter said that although there was no doubt that there was a reasonably strong case to be built against the two, the State had not proven that it was in the interest of justice to deny them bail.

During their bail application on Monday, investigating officer, Captain Oscar Molahlehile Mopeli, told the court how the couple had allegedly spent over R200 000 on a shopping spree at luxury stores in Sandton. They are also said to have purchased seven cars with cash over a short period of time, as well as two properties in Khayelitsha.

In his bail affidavit, Masebani told the court that he owned three cars, while Mpani, in her affidavit, said that she owned three cars. The couple intend denying the charges against them.

Mopeli testified that the majority of the money was transferred into Masebani’s and Mpani’s accounts, while the rest was transferred to people known to Masebani.

Some of the accounts have been frozen.

Third suspect arrested

Arguing against bail, prosecutor Sharon Masedi said that, because Masebani was an IT specialist, the State was concerned that he would conceal evidence vital to their case. She also said that the couple had not been co-operative in assisting the State in finding the cars allegedly bought through the proceeds of crime.

Venter questioned Masedi on the fact that no person facing a criminal charge was obliged to give the State information that might incriminate them, and that he could not compel anyone to do that.

He added that the State had not presented anything to substantiate the claim that Masebani, in particular, would try and conceal evidence.

As part of their bail conditions, they must report to their nearest police station twice a week, they must inform police when they leave for the Eastern Cape, they must not apply for any travel documents, and must reside at the same address they gave in their bail application. They must also not dispose of any assets that they mentioned in their affidavits.

In addition, Masebani is not allowed to set foot in the Absa branch where he worked, contact its employees, or access any of its information.

Meanwhile, a third person, who allegedly received R74-million of the money, has been arrested in connection with the case.

Gershom Matomane was arrested in Cape Town on Thursday and appeared in court on the same day.

Matomane is expected to appear again in Palm Ridge Court soon, while Masebani and Mpani will be back in court on 14 March.

 

By Londiwe Buthelezi for News24

With Covid-19 waging a brutal war on human life, 2020 became one of the toughest years for insurers as death claims surged to levels not seen in recent history.

Insurers paid R522.7-billion to policyholders and beneficiaries in 2020 after fielding almost half a million (434 216) legitimate death claims.

But the industry had to deal with another epidemic: fraudulent claims which sought to fleece the industry R587.3 million.

Those providing funeral insurance were the hardest hit as 2 282 of the reported 3 186 cases of fraudulent claims related to funeral cover.

From a desperate family that laid a dead body on the road so that it can claim accidental cover to syndicates who buy dead bodies or prey on drug addicts, fraudsters had plenty of tricks up their sleeves.

The insurance industry’s representative body, the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (Asisa), said it was not surprised. Even before the desperation brought by Covid-19 as people lost incomes and some stayed with bodies they didn’t know how they’d bury, insurance fraud was rife in SA. In 2019, SA insurers reported 2 837 fraudulent and dishonest claims to the value of R537.1 million.

READ | Unlawful for insurers to push exorbitant funeral cover increases, says regulator
Megan Govender, the convenor of the Asisa forensics standing committee, said funeral insurance has always been a soft target for fraudsters. But the Covid-19 pandemic has made it worse as the desperation due to job losses drove more people to resort to crime, especially because the excess deaths last year made it easier to source dead bodies for fraudulent claims.

“Since funeral insurance policies do not require blood tests and medical examinations and are designed to pay out quickly and without hassle when an insured family member dies, criminals and dishonest individuals most commonly try their luck in this space,” said Govender.

Some hair-raising cases

Asisa said the buying of dead bodies often involves syndicates and mortuary employees. The syndicates buy dead bodies and then use them to claim against policies that were fraudulently taken out some months earlier. They usually buy unclaimed bodies.

Another modus operandi involving syndicates targets drug addicts and alcoholics from poor communities with a promise of a job to obtain their personal details and fraudulently buy funeral cover for them.

When the waiting period lapses, the syndicates then have to find a body, which could be done through the purchase from a mortuary. But Govender said in one incident, the syndicate tried to murder the addict they’d covered. But the victim escaped.

However, it’s not just the syndicates that insurers have to worry about. One family collected the body from the mortuary before the death was registered and “purposefully” placed it on the road. It reported a hit and run accident and submitted a claim.

Govender said cases of families so desperate for funeral cover payouts are common, especially when the person died while they were still under the waiting period that insurers impose. Some resort to these tricks as accidental death benefits have no waiting period.

As for the other insurance products, Asisa said there were 388 fraudulent life insurance death claims totalling R264.3 million. Policyholders submitted 325 fraudulent and misrepresented disability claims, 141 hospital cash-back claims, and 50 retrenchment claims. KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number of detected fraudulent claims, followed by the Eastern Cape.

 

4m African web addresses have been stolen

Source: Business Insider SA

More than four million IP addresses have been misappropriated in what has been called Africa’s greatest internet heist. The extent of the theft, which first drew red flags back in 2016, has now been fully uncovered, revealing a trail of corruption, coverups, and a burgeoning black-market trade.

The results of an internal audit undertaken by the African Network Information Centre (AFRINIC) have finally been made public after almost two years of waiting. AFRINIC, which is responsible for the allocation and management of IP addresses on the continent, began its investigation after being contacted by the United States’ Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) in 2019.

Four years before the FBI drew attention to the numerous anomalies – and the Supreme Court of Mauritius, where it is headqaurtered, served AFRINIC with an order to investigate – the information centre was tipped off by internet investigator Ron Guilmette.

Guilmette’s collaboration with local tech publication, MyBroadband, resulted in a report which implicated AFRINIC co-founder and engineer Ernest Byaruhanga as the mastermind behind the heist.

In total, 4.1 million IP addresses were stolen, 2.3 million from AFRINIC’s “free pool” and a further 1.7 million “legacy” IP addresses. They were worth around R1.3 billion, according to MyBroadband.

An IP, or Internet Protocol, address allows devices to communicate with each other, by assigning a unique number to each device.

The current generation IPv4 addresses are, however, in seriously short supply. This shortage has, in turn, made IP addresses valuable.

AFRINIC tracks and manages IP addresses through the WHOIS system, which, as the title describes, records who or what is using a specific address. As part of its latest report on the theft, AFRINIC admits that its WHOIS database was severely compromised by internal staff who “acted in collusion with other third parties”.

IPv4 addresses, which were already reserved and in use by major organisations, were effectively hijacked and sold. These reappropriated IP addresses were used to forward spam, breach data records, and compromise websites.

Dozens of South African-based companies and organisations were impacted.

The Free State Department of Education and Anglo American both lost IP addresses to the value of almost R20 million, while the now-defunct Infoplan, which previously managed the Department of Defence’s information systems, was the worst hit, losing addresses worth approximately R80 million.

Three whole IP blocks, equating to almost 200,000 individual addresses, belonging to Woolworths were misappropriated. MyBroadband estimates the value of these stolen addresses to exceed R58 million.

Similarly, three IP blocks belonging to Nedbank – historically associated with Cape of Good Hope Bank Limited, Syfrets, and NBS Bank – were also part of the heist.

Other major South African organisations which had their IP addresses misappropriated include Nampak, Sasol, the City of Cape Town’s Directorate of Information Services, Transnet, and Independent Media’s Argus Holdings.

Approximately 1.5 million IP addresses have been reversed or reclaimed as part of AFRINIC’s audit. Most other addresses are still pending, as the result of a review process determining rightful custodianship.

 

Source: Telecom Paper

Vodacom South Africa says it has spent R1-billion on batteries over the last six months to ensure its network stayed up during loadshedding, MyBroadband reported.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the power outages this year forced the operator to increase its back-up power investment.

South Africa suffered the worst ever load-shedding in 2020, with total gigawatt-hours shed surpassing the 2019 record in August. In September, the cumulative load-shedding for 2020 was already 23% worse than the whole of 2019.

To create a robust mobile network, Vodacom directed 20 percent of its R5-billion capital expenditure over the last six months towards back-up power.

To buy and install new batteries at mobile sites is only part of the challenge as criminals are wrecking mobile networks to get their hands on the batteries, which are then sold on the black market.

Joosub said Vodacom is losing around R150-million per year because of battery theft, which is an ongoing battle.

 

Source: MyBroadband

New evidence has revealed widespread airtime theft and fraudulent WASP subscriptions on Vodacom’s network, showing that the company failed to act decisively against the criminals.

The latest evidence follows an industry investigation which revealed airtime theft on a mass scale from Vodacom’s prepaid customers.

What sets the latest evidence apart is that it comes from a prominent company which uses machine-to-machine communications and IoT devices with prepaid SIMs from Vodacom.

It is therefore impossible for these SIMs to pro-actively subscribe to WASP services, which means this data provides conclusive evidence of fraudulent subscriptions and airtime theft.

The company’s chief executive, who asked to remain anonymous because of his relationship with Vodacom, told MyBroadband hundreds of their SIMs have been hit by airtime theft.

The company experienced theft on both brand-new SIMs and SIMs which have been in devices for years.

He said Vodacom refuses to acknowledge any problem and added that it is very difficult to get refunds for the stolen airtime.

Only around 5% to 10% of the airtime theft which they logged with Vodacom were refunded.

He said it requires considerable effort to get a refund, which is further complicated as it is impossible to approach Vodacom with a list of SIMs from which airtime was stolen.

“You need to phone in as a single prepaid customer and go through the motions of trying to convince them that the SIM is in a device with no human access,” he said.

“You have to hound them repeatedly to get the refund to be processed, and you often just give up after a while.”

The evidence further showed that the same WASPs continue to steal airtime from SIMs long after it was reported to Vodacom.

The data provided to MyBroadband stretches back for many months and conclusively proves:

  • There is widespread fraud and airtime theft on Vodacom’s network to this day.
  • Vodacom was made aware of this fraud and airtime theft, for a long time, but failed to act decisively.
  • The same companies continue to steal airtime from Vodacom’s subscribers.

Keep your money safe with these tips

Be your money’s best protection by following these SABRIC tips:

Tips to prevent card not present (CNP) fraud

  • Personal information includes identity documents, driver’s licenses, passports, addresses and contact details amongst others. Always protect your personal information by sharing it very selectively and on a need to know basis only
  • Never share your confidential information which includes usernames, passwords and PIN numbers with anyone
  • Review your account statements on a timely basis; query disputed transactions with your bank immediately
  • When shopping online, only place orders with your card on a secure website
  • Register for 3D Secure
  • Implement dual authentication for all accounts and products, especially for financial services products
  • Do not send e-mails that quote your card number and expiry date
  • Do not use your information if you suspect it may have been compromised. Rather use other personal information that you have not used previously in order to confirm your identity in future
  • Register for SMS notifications to alert you when products and accounts are accessed
  • Conduct regular credit checks to verify whether someone has applied for credit using your personal information and if so, advise the credit grantor immediately
  • Investigate and register for credit related alerts offered by credit bureaus

Tips to prevent phishing and vishing

Phishing:

  • Do not click on links or icons in unsolicited e-mails
  • Do not reply to these e-mails. Delete them immediately
  • Do not believe the content of unsolicited e-mails blindly. If you are worried about what is alleged, use your own contact details to contact the sender to confirm
  • Type in the URL (uniform resource locator or domain names) for your bank in the internet browser if you need to access your bank’s webpage
  • Check that you are on the real site before using any personal information
  • If you think that you might have been compromised, contact your bank immediately
  • Create complicated passwords that are not easy to decipher and change them often

Vishing:

  • Banks will never ask you to confirm your confidential information over the phone
  • If you receive a phone call requesting confidential or personal information, do not respond and end the call
  • If you receive an OTP on your phone without having transacted yourself, it was likely prompted by a fraudster using your personal information. Do not provide the OTP telephonically to anybody. Contact your bank immediately to alert them to the possibility that your information may have been compromised
  • If you lose mobile connectivity under circumstances where you are usually connected, check whether you may have been the victim of a SIM swop

Tips for protecting your personal information

  • Don’t use the same username and password for access to banking and social media platforms
  • Avoid sharing or having joint social media accounts
  • Be cautious about what you share on social media
  • Activate your security settings which restrict access to your personal information
  • Don’t carry unnecessary personal information in your wallet or purse
  • Don’t disclose personal information such as passwords and PINs when asked to do so by anyone via telephone, fax or even email
  • Don’t write down PINs and passwords and avoid obvious choices like birth dates and first names
  • Don’t use any Personal Identifiable Information (PII) as a password, user ID or personal identification number (PIN)
  • Don’t use Internet Cafes or unsecure terminals (hotels, conference centres etc.) to do your banking
  • Use strong passwords for all your accounts
  • Change your password regularly and never share them with anyone else
  • Store personal and financial documentation safely. Always lock it away
  • Keep PIN numbers and passwords confidential
  • Verify all requests for personal information and only provide it when there is a legitimate reason to do so
  • To prevent your ID being used to commit fraud if it is ever lost or stolen, alert the SA Fraud Prevention Service immediately on 0860 101 248 or at www.safps.org.za
  • Ensure that you have a robust firewall and install antivirus software to prevent a computer virus sending out personal information from your computer
  • When destroying personal information, either shred or burn it (do not tear or put it in a garbage or recycling bag)
  • Should your ID or driver’s license be stolen report it to SAPS immediately

Tips for protecting yourself against SIM swops

  • If reception on your cell phone is lost, immediately check what the problem could be, as you could have been a victim of an illegal SIM swop on your number. If confirmed, notify your bank immediately
  • Inform your Bank should your cell phone number changes so that your cell phone notification contact number is updated on its systems
  • Register for your Bank’s cell phone notification service and receive electronic messages relating to activities or transactions on your accounts as and when they occur
  • Regularly verify whether the details received from cell phone notifications are correct and according to the recent activity on your account. Should any detail appear suspicious immediately contact your bank and report all log-on notification that are unknown to you
  • Memorise your PIN and passwords, never write them down or share them, not even with a bank official
  • Make sure your PIN and passwords cannot be seen when you enter them
  • If you think your PIN and/or password has been compromised, change it immediately either online or at your nearest branch
  • Choose an unusual PIN and password that are hard to guess and change them often

Tips for carrying cash safely

Tips for individuals

  • Carry as little cash as possible
  • Consider the convenience of paying your accounts electronically (consult your bank to find out about other available options)
  • Consider making use of cell phone banking or internet transfers or ATMs to do your banking
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you

Tips for businesses

  • Vary the days and times on which you deposit cash
  • Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you
  • Do not openly display the money you are depositing while you are standing in the bank queue
  • Avoid carrying moneybags, briefcases or openly displaying your deposit receipt book
  • It is advisable to identify another branch nearby you that you can visit to ensure that your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected
  • If the amount of cash you are regularly depositing is increasing as your business grows, consider using the services of a cash management company
  • Refrain from giving wages to your contract or casual labourers in full view of the public; rather make use of wage accounts that can be provided by your bank
  • Consider arranging for electronic transfers of wages to contract or casual labourer’s personal bank accounts

By Natasha Odendaal for Creamer Media’s Engineering News 

Telecommunications giant Vodacom has started engaging communities to intensify security around its base stations to guard against vandalism and battery theft.

Community members will be recruited, trained and accredited – working with police – serving as “monitoring personnel” under a new model to secure its sites.

“Incidents of base station vandalism have significantly gotten worse over the last few years,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub, noting that the crime is being perpetuated by organised syndicates that always find new ways to commit this type of crime.

“Our security teams on the ground have observed that quite often syndicates target base stations in far-flung and secluded areas because they know it will take police a long time to react. Hence, our sites in remote areas are repeatedly hit,” said Vodacom Group chief risk officer Johan Van Graan.

Theft and vandalism, and its subsequent damage, is costing network providers hundreds of millions of rands worth of damage every year.

Vodacom reported a 35% increase year-on-year in the number of battery thefts at its base stations, with an average of 600 incidents a month of sites impacted by theft or damage.

“We are losing between R120-million and R130-million to vandalism and theft each year. Nonetheless, we are not sitting on our laurels and are fighting back by coming up with innovative measures to stem the tide of battery theft,” Joosub assured.

Vodacom is testing a new model to secure its sites by forging partnerships with members of the community.

“As part of this new model, we recruit local people to serve as monitoring personnel to be our eyes and ears on the ground and provide us critical information police can use to effect arrests,” Van Graan said.

Locals will be trained and accredited, and linked with the local policing community forum and local South African Police Services to provide support when arrests must happen.

“In all the provinces where this model is currently being tested, it has yielded positive results,” he said, citing a substantial reduction in break-ins at at-risk sites owing to the enlistment of local people to secure its sites.

“This demonstrates that the number-one line of defence against site vandalism is the local community and vigilant community members who report incidents of battery theft or site vandalism to police,” he added.

Each theft incident can result in the network in that area being down for days, and can severely impact businesses, as well as anyone relying on the Internet to study and remain in contact with friends and family.

Vodacom plans to spend R1-billion in the current financial year to ensure its network is able to cope with widespread electricity blackouts, which will include intensified security around the telco’s base station sites and the installation of additional batteries and generators to ensure connectivity during load-shedding.

By James de Villiers for Business Insider SA

The North Korean connection in a brazen R300-million heist in Japan, which used stolen data from Standard Bank, has been confirmed in a new report.
The mastermind of the 2016 operation – which involved more than 100 people – fled to North Korea afterwards.
The group is believed to have used counterfeit credit cards stolen or leaked from Standard Bank to steal the money.

It has now been confirmed that the alleged mastermind behind a syndicate which stole 1.8 billion yen, or roughly R302 million at current exchange rates, in Japan by using data stolen from Standard Bank, fled to North Korea, the Japanese newswire Kyodo News reported this weekend.

In 2016, the man lead a group of people who used counterfeit credit cards stolen or leaked from Standard Bank to withdraw large amounts from convenience-store ATMs in 17 areas across the country, including Tokyo.

The Atlantic reported that more than 100 people were believed to have been involved in the operation which took place over two hours on 15 May 2016.

Around 1 700 automated teller machines at 1 600 convenience stores were targeted.

The mastermind fled to North Korea by way of China shortly after, investigators have now determined.

Last year, Nippon.com reported that United Nations Security Council panel found that North Korea may have been involved in the incident.

Standard Bank told Business Insider South Africa that they are unable to comment as investigations are ongoing, and directed enquiries to the relevant authorities.

Japanese police have been working with South African police during its investigations. It said over 260 people have been arrested in relation to the incident, the Japan Times reported.

MyBroadband has released an explosive report detailing how billions of rands worth of airtime has been stolen from mobile subscribers in South Africa, by rogue wireless application service providers (WASPs) who bill cellular subscribers’ accounts without their permission.

MyBroadband received this information from two industry insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the report, subscribers are defenceless as “there is no way to proactively block WASP billing on their accounts”.

How it works

  • WASPs are able to bill mobile cellular users’ accounts, taking airtime for content subscription services
  • Rogue WASPs exploit the system to bill people’s accounts without their permission or knowledge
  • Users’ only defence is to regularly check their account and ask for a refund if their airtime was stolen
  • Unless the fraud is detected and a complaint is lodged, the money is gone forever
  • Both the rogue WASP and the mobile operator profit

According to MyBroadband, this has been happening for over a decade, and mobile operators are well aware of this problem.

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