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No arrests in R89.5m cybercrime fraud from Sassa funds

Sassa cards seized during a raid by KZN police Picture: Supplied

Sassa cards seized during a raid by KZN police Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 26, 2022

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Cape Town - No arrests have been made in connection with the R89.5million stolen in a cybercrime fraud from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) accounts in Postbank last year.

This was revealed by Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu when she was responding to parliamentary questions from IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe.

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Van der Merwe said media reported that nearly R89,5 million was stolen from the Sassa accounts from the Postbank allegedly by the bank's employees or contractors between October 16 and 18.

It was reported at the time that the money was fraudulently transferred to 279 accounts and withdrawn at ATMs using cloned cards.

Van der Merwe enquired whether any criminal investigation has been opened against any officials of the Postbank.

In her response, Zulu said a formal criminal case was opened soon after the discovery of the incident.

“The case was opened with the Specialised Unit of the Organised Crime Unit of the SAPS. The case is currently being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks),” she said.

Zulu also said over 600 pages of information gathered by the Postbank internal investigation unit was handed over to the Hawks.

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“The Hawks criminal investigation is currently ongoing and includes all leads available. Postbank is cooperating fully with the investigators to try and apprehend the suspects.”

She said Postbank had zero tolerance to any fraud or theft and would act against any staff member or any other party found guilty.

Zulu, however, said no specific Postbank, SA Post Office or Sassa staff member was separately investigated.

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“However, all staff that were close to the environment where the incident took place are treated as suspects and are included in the list of staff being investigated by the Hawks.

“No arrests have been made at this point in time,” she said.

Van der Merwe also enquired whether Postbank officials and/or contractors working with Sassa accounts undergo security vetting.

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Zulu said as part of the recruitment and selection process within Postbank, all candidates are vetted before making an appointment.

“This practice is in alignment with Postbank’s Human Resources Recruitment and Selection policy. The vetting of candidates includes criminal checks, credit checks, qualification verifications, ID checks and South African citizenship checks,” she said.

Zulu also said Postbank’s fixed-term contract workers underwent the same recruitment and selection process, like the bank’s employees.

She also said contractors provided by service providers included a standard clause stating that contractors must be security vetted and approved before working on Postbank IT systems.

In December, Sassa had not incurred any financial losses in cases where Sassa beneficiaries reported fraudulent transactions.

She said cases were referred to SA Post Office or Postbank to investigate.

“In the last three years that SAPO/Postbank and Sassa have had a contractual agreement, an amount of R90 993 960,56 has been reimbursed to 27 534 beneficiaries,” Zulu said.

At the time, she was responding to a parliamentary question after a man was found in possession of 771 cards of the Sassa and allegedly withdrew R189 391,27 from Sassa accounts between August 2020 and July 2021 in Ballito, Durban in KwaZulu-Natal.

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