In less than two years, the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) has prevented R2.8 billion being stolen from financial institutions by fraudsters. SAFPS CEO Manie van Schalkwyk said the organisation prevented several financial institutions from being defrauded of a total of R1.8 billion last year and about R1 billion this year.
Would-be fraudsters give counterfeit banking details, identity documents (IDs), salary slips and home addresses to get loans from financial organisations. To fight fraud, SAFPS, a nonprofit organisation, “protects the public against impersonation and identity theft and provides fraud-related data to 65 trusted brands in the SA economy”.
SAFPS stores the ID numbers of members of the public registered with the organisation for protection services. It alerts member companies if an individual has been a victim of identity fraud or theft. This is to ensure that financial institutions are dealing with the correct person.
Van Schalkwyk said they have recorded close to 108 000 cases on their database over 10 years. During this period, there were about 66 000 cases of fraud, 21 000 victims and 20 000 people seeking protection from SAFPS. Of the 66 000, the IDs of 7 000 were stolen.
When consumers open accounts with cellphone companies, furniture shops or get loans from banks, SAFPS checks its database to confirm whether the applicant is legitimate or if they have been a victim of fraud, which is recorded on the database.
Fraudsters also take owners’ photos out of their ID books and put the impostors’ ones in. Most victims of these crimes only find out about the debt incurred in their names when credit providers or debt collectors “knock at their doors demanding payment”.
On Wednesday, the Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni Metro Police Departments reportedly nabbed four suspects in possession of “fraudulent documents worth R10 million”.
The accused, allegedly part of an illegal syndicate, were arrested in Brackendowns, Alberton and Johannesburg. The metro police confiscated counterfeit cheques, identity documents, driving licences, salary slips and equipment to produce fraudulent documents. – firstname.lastname@example.org