Card cloners jailed for two years each

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-Four men were on Monday sentenced to two years behind bars in the Windhoek Magistrate’s Court after they were found in possession of a bankcard cloning device.

Nathanael Nawa, Martin Zemo Shalukeni, Steven Mangali and Mathews Bernard were arrested after the police found them with such a device. Following a tip-off from a member of the public, the police reportedly arrested the group in September 2012.

According to the prosecution, the accused were found in possession of an instrument that can be used in forging or falsifying a payment instrument, in contravention of the Payment System Management Act.

According to one state witness, the group found her at an automatic teller machine, where they informed her that for her transaction to go smoothly, she needed to press certain keys on the machine.

After being informed by the witness that she knew how to use the machine, the group hurriedly left the scene in “a getaway taxi” that was waiting for them. The incident was reported to the police, and a chase ensued that soon resulted in them being arrested.

The prosecution is alleging that the cloning device found in the getaway taxi was used in cloning bankcards. The cloned cards are then used to make unauthorised withdrawals from the victims’ bank accounts.

The criminals distract their victim at an ATM while stealing their debit or credit card and then swiping the card through the cloning device to transfer all the data from the owner’s card onto the machine. The data is then downloaded onto a computer and a skimming device, from which a new card is cloned. The devices are said to be available online.

“There is no doubt that card cloning syndicates are on the increase in Windhoek and Namibia as a whole,” said Magistrate Justine Asino before sentencing the four. “It must become well known to those that tend to gratify their elicit desires, needs and urges at the expense of the victims and the laws that they will be dealt with by the wrath of the law.”

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