The conspiracy and scam were made easy by an employee of the bank.
A Durban beautician and 10 other people who worked an elaborate scheme to defraud Standard Bank of more than R27 million have been arrested and have had their assets seized.
Police are closing in on the kingpins who allegedly recruited the 11 suspects as part of the syndicate.
They allegedly targeted unemployed people, desperate for money, to make fraudulent applications to the bank for car finance.
The fraudulent applications were allegedly vetted by a bank employee, working in cahoots with the syndicate.
Cam-Aron Aidan Pillay, 20, Junaid Khan, 24, Fatima Ershad, 43, Kevin Pillay, 33, Rajesh Dewduth, 39, Dhanraj Ramsunder, 44, Wendy Mvundla, 23, Kaylin Salik, 19, Malvin Valayundan, 31, Govindma Moonsamy, 58, and Nadine Govindasamy, 41, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday on 22 counts of fraud.
Magistrate Vanitha Armu released them on R1 000 bail each.
All the suspects, except for Govindasamy, were arrested by members of the Provincial Commercial Crime Investigations Unit and the metro police on Sunday in various operations in Chatsworth, Phoenix, Stanger and Durban North.
Fifteen luxury vehicles, valued at R15million, were also seized.
Govindasamy handed herself over to investigating officer Warrant Officer Yoganathan Govender on Tuesday morning.
In court, prosecutor Yuri Gangai said investigations by Standard Bank revealed that the suspects had allegedly handed in fraudulent documents in a bid to obtain a motor vehicle loan.
This loan, he said, was approved by the bank employee, who has since been fired from her job. Sources close to the investigation said her arrest was imminent.
Gangai told the court that the kingpins obtained copies of their victims’ identity documents and then ran a credit check. If they qualified for a loan, the application for vehicle finance would be processed online.
The source said all the suspects were approved for vehicle finance by the bank in 2017.
He said some of the unsuspecting victims were picked off the streets.
“The kingpins would befriend the victims and convince them to open a bank account on the pretence of wanting to purchase a luxury vehicle.”
It has been alleged that once the victim received their bank card, they would hand it over to the kingpin.
The account would then be activated with card swipes and deposits. After three months of transactions, the kingpins would then make an online application for vehicle finance, the source said.
Once the finance was approved, the victim would go with the kingpins to a dealership where they would purchase a luxury vehicle and sign for the deal.
“However, soon after the kingpins would take the vehicle and the victim would receive a cash payout to keep quiet,” said the source.
The court heard that the amount received by each accused varied. Khan, who works at an engineering company, financed a vehicle for R425 000 and was paid R45 000. Pillay signed for two vehicles worth R641 000 each and was paid only R1000.
The cash amount given to Ershad, a mother of three, has yet to be determined. She was financed for R639 000.
Salik, who works as a driver for a company in Clairwood, purchased two vehicles worth R1.4 million and received R160 000 in cash.
He allegedly handed over a false document to show his proof of address.
Aidan Pillay received finance worth R442 000 and received R40 000. Mvundla, who submitted a false bank statement to Standard Bank, purchased two vehicles worth R900 000 but did not receive any money because she used the vehicles.
Valayundan, who has a previous conviction for being in possession of pirated CDs, received finance worth R338 000.
Ramsunder, a father of two, was allegedly promised a job by the kingpins. He financed a vehicle worth R450 000. He received R20000. Dewduth, who has a previous conviction for fishing without a licence, got finance for R400 000.
Govindasamy had made various applications online for vehicle finance. However, her application was denied because she submitted a false salary slip (with a higher salary) in order for the application to be approved.
Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom said that this was an ongoing investigation.
He said they were co-operating with the police.
“Standard Bank has a zero tolerance stance on fraud or theft of any kind and will take the necessary action, when it’s appropriate to do so.”