East London - The Eastern Cape department of education said on Thursday it had uncovered a cheque fraud syndicate targeting schools in the Alfred Nzo Municipality this week.
Victims of the syndicate uncovered by the department, so far include two schools in Mbizana and one in Flagstaff with the potential loss of more than R320 000.
Department spokesperson Mali Mtima said the perpetrators were skillfully cloning school cheque books. He said they had been found to be conducting cell phone sim-card swaps of principals and school governing body finance committee members.
“The consequence of these illegal cell phone sim card swaps, is that criminals are able to validate cheques when banks undertake confirmation of these transactions. These cheques are cashed in across the country and so far, the department has identified that this scheme is only targeting First National Bank and cash in has been done in the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast towns,” said Mtima.
A further attempt to cash in at the FNB Sandton branch resulted in an arrest. The department commended the vigilance of the First National Bank and said it had committed to refunding most of the money stolen.