Joint operation to curb fraud leads to 11 arrests

A joint operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS), the National Credit Regulator (NCR) and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to curb fraud and illegal retention of SASSA cards has led to the arrest of 11 people.

The operation focused on persons making withdrawals from ATMs in the Nigel, Johannesburg area in the early hours of this morning, just after SASSA grant recipients monies had been dispersed to their accounts. A total of 11 individuals were arrested, the suspects were found to be in possession of thousands of cards. Criminal cases have been opened and the suspects will appear in court tomorrow, said the NCR and the SAPS on Wednesday.

The focus of Tuesday's operation said the regulator -- which is an agency of the Department of Trade and Industry -- is primarily to identify credit providers who are unlawfully, retaining pension cards, bank cards, identity documents and personal identity numbers (PIN) of their clients as surety.

Retaining these cards is a contravention of the National Credit Act and it is a criminal offence, said the regulator's Manager of the Investigations and Enforcements Department Jacqueline Peters.

Peters said the NCR's partnership with SASSA and SAPS is part of the regulator's ongoing strategy to root out predatory lending practices and to ensure that all credit providers, no matter where they conduct business, comply with the provisions of the National Credit Act.

The exploitation of vulnerable and unsuspecting consumers by credit providers will not be tolerated, said Peters.

The National Credit Regulator urged consumers who have handed over their ID books and pension cards to credit providers to go to the Nigel police station to collect them.

Consumers are cautioned to avoid credit providers who require them to hand over their ID books or cards as it is a criminal offence and it is usually coupled with reckless lending and overcharging she said.

Compliance among vehicle financiers

Meanwhile, the NCR is also conducting a compliance monitoring exercise on the license and registration fees payable by consumers under vehicle finance agreements.

The National Credit Regulator is conducting a compliance monitoring exercise amongst vehicle financiers on license and registration fees payable by consumers under credit agreements to determine compliance with the provisions of section 102 of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005 (the Act).

The regulator has sent a request for information for this exercise to credit providers that provide vehicle finance to consumers.

The Act requires the credit provider not to charge a consumer the license or registration fee that is more than the actual amount payable by the credit provider for the licensing or registration of the motor vehicle, said acting Manager for Compliance at the NCR Mmabatho Senyarelo.

This exercise is part of the NCR's ongoing monitoring of the credit providers' compliance with the cost of credit provisions of the Act.

Source: South African Government News Agency