WORLD NEWS TOMORROW – Breaking News – World News Tomorrow decided to investigate for itself what the issue is, after all, the South African public has the right to know, or do they ?
During Google of Standard Bank name on the hellopeter.com website, it indicated a staggering 8315 records, a total of 278 Pages of public complaints, just for the last . Most of which has not been solved nor investigated by any police crime unit in South Africa. We must ad, there were only a few positives on Hellopeter that leaves much to say.
Is the “New” consumer protection act of South Africa Failing or what ? Several of the complains refers to debit fraud. The South African public may be in for a surprise if they fail to regularly check their bank statements, as financial institutions seemingly reject the idea that they have a responsibility to protect clients against a wave of debit order fraud.
Scores of unauthorized debit transactions appear to be eroding private individuals’ bank accounts. These fraudulent debit transactions stem from hard-to-trace scam companies but are facilitated by a string of financial institutions, including the banks and intermediary debit service companies.
Despite often having no knowledge of these unauthorized arrangements, the defrauded consumer is seemingly being lumped with the responsibility for ensuring that the fraud does not take place.
One company that has come under fire as an apparent facilitator of much of the fraud, is the major debit order service provider Stratcol. Stratcol works as an intermediary between the banks and businesses, authorising debit orders against the accounts of consumers at the request of the businesses which use its service.
In theory, the system requires that Stratcol’s clients agree with their customers on the dates and amounts which will be debited from their bank accounts in payment for services rendered. Those orders are then sent to Stratcol in bulk, either via an email on a pro-forma excel spreadsheet or through the company’s online portal. Stratcol will then instruct the relevant bank, via the company Bankserv, to begin deducting those amounts.
However, it would appear that the service is being abused by unknown third parties as a means to make unauthorized debit orders without the consent or knowledge of the individual being debited. Banks, in turn, appear to reject any suggestion that they are obliged to protect customers against this abuse.
Moneyweb was first alerted to this apparent abuse by an individual working within a major lending institution, who examined the problem. According to the banker the scope of fraud doesn’t appear to be endemic, but judging from the amount of complaints registered against Stratcol via complaints website Hellopeter, it is significant.
A Moneyweb reader has also detailed his experience of debit order fraud on a Standard Bank account, which appears to have been facilitated by Stratcol. Responding to the complaint, Standard Bank senior manager and media complaints liaison Mr. Joop Dekker who present himself as the “Top authority“ in the bank, rejected any obligation of the bank to protect its clients from the abuse.
Interesting finding indicates that the leak of private information within the bank of its clients, could be the key to this epidemic. The question now remains. How good is the Bank in securing and protection of private individuals accounts and information. No debit order transfer can take place without having the individuals private banking information such as , name, address ID and notoriously, his account number. So where does the criminals get it from ?
During 2007 a High Net Worth private bank Client discovered that R25 000 ( $2800) were taken from his private account. The client immediately notified his private banker at Standard Bank who accused the client of having used his credit card. Fortunately, the credit card were still at the bank at the time of accuazation and were never released to the client.
The bank later said it was copied inside the bank and the refund were done immediately, but , Standard Bank never filed any fraud charges against its staff who took the card and used it. Instead the R25 000 were written off in the name of political correctness- Case closed. Bankomania ?
Is Standard Bank failing to take action or are they simply ignoring that private information of clients are leaking to criminals ears ? Alarming indeed. Either way, it’s very convenient to have immunity from the South African authorities and police services.
World News decided to dig a bit deeper and found many complains in open source public internet indicating that the Standard Bank could be mismanaged and more importantly at the fate of one man mr. “ Joop Dekker “ known as ” The Man ” as some called their encounters with as such.
Is banking practices in South Africa taking on a form of Mafioso trends and practices ?
If you had any bad experience with any bank please write to us and tell us your story
Exclusive for World News Tomorrow by Kevin Brenan. Crime Investigating journalist and IFJ Member