A third person has been arrested in the pending Vodacom banking fraud case, the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court heard on Friday.
The suspect was a woman believed to be from Orange Farm. She would initially appear separately from her co-accused Mbokodana Khoza and Mbusi Bhengu and would, at a later date, join them in the dock.
Khoza and Bhengu appeared in court on Friday and their cases were remanded to different dates.
The state alleges that the two men formed part of a syndicate that stole millions of rands from clients of all four major banks — First National Bank, Standard Bank, Absa, Nedbank, as well as Capitec Bank.
Most of the clients were defrauded after their banking details were stolen by the syndicate through a method known as phishing — the acquiring of sensitive information such as passwords, by masquerading as a business in electronic communication.
Bhengu, 28, is accused of committing banking fraud of around R8m while Khoza is accused of using his position as a Vodacom engineer to defraud R1,8m from customers.
Khoza would allegedly intercept Vodacom clients’ text messages to obtain their sensitive banking details like pin numbers and passwords.
To do this, he would allegedly created a temporary Sim card which was a copy of the banking customer’s.
The fraudsters, using the stolen banking information, would then arrange for a “one-time” password to be sent to the customer which would be intercepted by the Vodacom employee.
The password was then used to transfer money from the bank customer’s account to that belonging to the fraudster. Once the money had been withdrawn, the ATM card would be thrown away.
Through all this, a client would not receive any correspondence regarding transactions from their accounts, as all text messages in this regard would go straight to the fraudulent SIM copy in possession of the alleged fraudsters.
Bhengu, at an earlier appearance, denied any involvement in any fraudulent activities, nor any collusion with Khoza.
The court however heard that Bhengu allegedly sent several bank cards to Durban using the SA Airways courier service.
At court on Friday, state prosecutor Richard Chabalala said Bhengu had fired his lawyer. “I received information that accused number two fired his attorney…” and attained the serves of a new legal representative, Nardos Grove.
It was not known why he had sacked the attorney. The court heard that Bhengu’s bail application hearing had not been completed.
At first, Bhengu did not apply for bail but later changed his mind. At his second bail appearance, Bhengu was not brought to court because prison warders were on strike.
Judge Jerry Jansen van Vuuren postponed his case to 9 October for the continuation of his bail application.
Khoza’s case was postponed to October 20 for further investigation. He is out on extended bail of R15 000. — Sapa