CEO'S home loan plundered

The recent spike in SIM-swop scams is worrying, says the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric).

Media24 chief executive Esmare Weideman became the latest victim of a fraudulent SIM swop at the weekend, with R1.5 million being transferred from her home loan account to a linked cheque account. The fraudster then allegedly made three transfers totalling R360 000 to an account in the name of "Badiba Madiba".

"The first transfer was of R200 000, then R80 000 and then another R80 000," Weideman, who banks with Absa, said yesterday.

"I feel so exposed. I looked at my phone at around lunchtime on Sunday and saw that there was no network... On Monday, I asked my personal assistant to get my phone going and after several calls to MTN, they told my personal assistant that someone had done a SIM swop."

Weideman said MTN had her phone reactivated and at about 2.30pm on Monday, she received a call from a member of Absa's digital fraud division who informed her that her account had been frozen because of "suspected fraudulent activity".

"That's when they told me that R1.5m had been transferred from my home loan to my cheque account and that three further transfers were made to another account," she said.

Weideman reported the incident to the Rondebosch police on Monday.

"Absa confirmed that its fraud unit was investigating, but I'm concerned about their non-commital approach when it comes to the recovery of the money."

Weideman said her private banker had told her that "normally" the account holder was responsible for any transactions on the account.

"My PA has been fielding calls all day from people who have been defrauded in the same way, and who are waiting to get their money back," she said. "Syndicates are targeting all banks. They need to improve their security mechanisms."

Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay said she was worried about the "scale of crimes" committed against bank clients across the country.

"The banks are investing significantly in systems and solutions to monitor and detect such risks."

MTN and Absa were involved in at least three cases of SIM card-related fraud reported by Moneyweb recently.

MTN could not be reached for comment yesterday.

(Cape Argus)

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