Card Cloners Given Four More Years in Prison

AFTER close to seven years in custody, the five men found guilty of involvement in an international fraud scheme in which bank cards were cloned and then used to withdraw money in Namibia, were sentenced to a further four years in prison yesterday.

It would be economically suicidal to leave banks at the mercy of marauding fraudsters, Judge Alfred Siboleka said during the sentencing of the five convicted men in the Windhoek High Court. With their sentencing a message should be sent out to would-be offenders that the cloning of bank cards and the use of such forged cards in the Namibian banking system would be punished without mercy by Namibia’s courts, Judge Siboleka said.

All but one of the five convicted men have already spent close to seven years in prison awaiting the finalisation of their trial. The only Namibian among the accused, Travoltha Mekaundapi Tjiuiju, was on bail for most of the time while their case was pending, but his bail was withdrawn when he and his co-accused were found guilty two months ago.

The trial started in March 2011, when all of the accused denied guilt on a total of 1 516 charges.

Judge Siboleka convicted Tjiuiju (33), Sri Lankans Pararasasingam Sarangan (30) and Anthony Suresh Kumar Stanis (37), British citizen Satheeskumar Thulasithas (36), and Singaporean national Abdul Kader Jamal (48) – on a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud. Thulasithas, Sarangan, Stanis and Jamal were also found guilty on a charge of fraud involving an unknown amount of money.

On those charges, which were taken together for sentencing, each of the five was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment, of which eight years were conditionally suspended for a period of five years.

Judge Siboleka further found Thulasithas, Sarangan and Stanis guilty on three charges of unlawful use of property involving bank cards belonging to other people that were found in their possession. On each of those charges, Judge Siboleka sentenced each of the men to six months’ imprisonment, with those sentences ordered to be served concurrently with the effective sentence of four years on the charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Thulasithas, Sarangan and Jamal were also convicted of having failed to declare foreign currency in their possession when they entered Namibia. The three of them and Tjiuiju were lastly found guilty of having forged a driving licence in Tjiuiju’s name.

On those charges, Thulasithas and Sarangan were sentenced to effective fines totalling N$14 000 or three years’ imprisonment if they fail to pay the fines, while Jamal was sentenced to pay fines totalling N$9 000 or two years’ imprisonment and Tjiuiju was sentenced to pay a fine of N$5 000 or serve a term of imprisonment of 12 months.

The accused will also be losing the money that was found at the guest house in Windhoek where the police discovered cloned bank cards and equipment used to forge bank cards at the time of their arrest in August 2007. Judge Siboleka ordered that the money – consisting of N$116 020, US$94 374 (about N$1,01 million), 14 455 euro (about N$210 000), 520 rand and 200 pula – would be confiscated by the State in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

The court heard during the trial that the bank account details of British residents stolen at fuel stations in the United Kingdom were later used to make cloned bank cards that ended up being used to make unauthorised withdrawals at automated teller machines in Namibia from March to August 2007. The prosecution alleged that the accused used cloned bank cards to withdraw about N$1,46 million at ATMs in Namibia, and that they also tried without success to withdraw an additional N$2,77 million from British bank clients’ accounts using the same method.

Source : The Namibian