Five Guilty of Cloned Bank Cards Scam

FIVE men accused of having been part of a fraud ring that specialised in cloning bank cards and stealing money from British bank clients’ accounts were found guilty on various charges in the Windhoek High Court yesterday.

Judge Alfred Siboleka found all of the five accused guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. That was the first of the 1 516 charges on which the five – Sri Lankans Pararasasingam Sarangan (30) and Anthony Suresh Kumar Stanis (37), Singaporean national Abdul Kader Jamal (48), British citizen Satheeskumar Thulasithas (35), and Namibian Travoltha Mekaundapi Tjiuiju (32) – have been on trial since March 2011. He further convicted Thusalithas, Sarangan, Stanis and Jamal on a charge of fraud involving an unknown amount of money. In that charge the five were accused of having defrauded Namibian banks, Visa International and the British Barclays Bank PLC during the period of 19 March 2007 to 7 August 2007 by making unauthorised withdrawals of money from the accounts of British clients of Barclays Bank.

The prosecution alleged that about N$1,46 million was withdrawn by the accused with the use of cloned bank cards of clients of Barclays Bank, and that they also tried without success to withdraw an additional N$2,77 million using the same method.

Judge Siboleka also 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. Thulasithas and Sarangan were further convicted of having failed to declare US dollars in their possession when they entered Namibia, while the two of them and Jamal were also convicted of having failed to declare euros 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. The 1 516 charges on which the five accused were indicted included a charge of conspiracy to commit fraud, 1 032 charges of fraud, and 475 counts of forgery.

Judge Siboleka said in his judgement that he had no doubt in his mind that the accused knew one another before their arrest. All of the accused except Stanis were arrested on 7 August 2007. Stanis was arrested on 26 September 2007.

He further said he had no doubt in his mind that they had acted as a group and made concerted efforts to carry out a massive dishonest scheme.

The judge heard during the trial that the police found a card printer, a large number of cloned bank cards, lists of card numbers and possible PIN codes at the guesthouse in Windhoek where Sarangan, Thulasithas and another Sri Lankan, Amirthalingam Pugalnanthy, had been staying before their arrest.

He also heard testimony that Sarangan and Pugalnanthy had been arrested at a shopping centre in Katutura in the early morning hours of 7 August 2007, after they had allegedly used cloned cards to withdraw money from ATM machines at the shopping centre. Thulasithas was arrested when he arrived at the shopping centre in a bakkie to pick up the other two men.

Pugalnanthy would have been the first accused in the trial, but he disappeared in February 2010, while free on bail of N$200 000.

The five convicted men are due to return to court tomorrow for the hearing of further evidence and arguments in the run-up to their sentencing.

Defence lawyers Sisa Namandje and Brownell Uirab are representing the accused. State aocates Ed Marondedze and Erick Moyo are representing the prosecution.

Source : The Namibian