Police arrested 11 people and confiscated thousand of bank cards during a swoop on ATMs in Nigel, Gauteng, on Tuesday 1 August.
The joint operation by the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) focused on persons making withdrawals from ATMs in the area, hours after SASSA grant recipients monies had been dispersed to their accounts, according to a media release from the NCR.
The operation was aimed at curbing fraud, money laundering and the illegal retention of SASSA cards to enforce credit agreements, the NCR said.
“A total of 11 individuals were arrested and the suspects were found to be in possession of thousands of cards.”
Criminal cases were opened and the suspects would appear in court tomorrow. The Regulator said the intention was primarily to identify credit providers who are unlawfully retaining pension cards, bank cards, identity documents and personal identity numbers (PINs) of their clients as surety.
“Retaining these cards is a contravention of the National Credit Act (NCA) and it is a criminal offence,” said Manager of the NCR’s Investigations and Enforcements Department Jacqueline Peters.
She says the partnership with SASSA and SAPS was part of the Regulator’s ongoing strategy to root out predatory lending practices and to ensure that all credit providers, no matter where they conduct business, comply with the provisions of the Act.
“The exploitation of vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers by credit providers will not be tolerated,” Peters said.
“We urge consumers [in the area]who have handed over their ID Books and pension cards [to lenders]to go to the Nigel police station to collect their instruments,” Peters said. “Consumers are cautioned to avoid credit providers who require them to hand over their ID books or cards as it is a criminal offence and it is usually coupled with reckless lending and overcharging.”