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Durban - A KwaZulu-Natal crime syndicate, consisting only of women who pose as bank agents, that secured hundreds of fraudulent loan applications for blacklisted government employees, has been bust by police.
Four Clermont women, allegedly impersonating agents for several large banks in the country, were nabbed by the Durban Central Tactical Response Team (TRT) on Wednesday, after a tip-off.
Hundreds of payslips, copies of IDs, bank statements and tax-related information were allegedly found in their possession. Most of the documents had been altered to make the applicants eligible for loans, police said.
The women were arrested while seated in a car at the corner of Anton Lembede (Smith) and Dorothy Nyembe (Gardiner) streets.
Forensic investigators at Standard Bank in Durban were alerted to the women’s movements in the CBD.
Police spokesman, Captain Kephu Ndlovu, said the TRT confiscated a bag containing the documents.
The women, aged between 25 and 32, are expected to appear in court today on fraud charges.
Ndlovu said: “This syndicate of women used these documents to fraudulently obtain loans from large banks in the country.
“Many of the documents had been tampered with. In most instances the applicants were either blacklisted or did not earn enough money.
“These con artists hand out pamphlets in street corners offering bank loans. They claim to act as agents. It is a con. People must not fall for it. Loans should be obtained through recognised institutions.”
The women allegedly told police they obtained a 10 percent commission on every loan secured.
“This was a lucrative business. The women had a substantial amount of cash in their possession. Once they managed to get the paper work in order, they applied for loans.”
The source said it was being investigated if bank employees were involved in the fraud.
“In most instances the syndicate works with someone in the bank to fast-track the applications. Once the loan is approved, the money is paid out and the so-called agents disappear. In most instances the applicants are unable to repay the loan.”
Standard Bank spokeswoman, Kershia Singh, said they were aware of the incident.
SA Banking Risk Information Centre spokesman, Bongani Diako, said this was not a new scam. “Identity theft is also rife in the banking sector. Many con artists secure the identities of people through fraudulent means to secure loans. We therefore advise bank customers to be cautious as to whom they share this information with.”