Tuesday, December 16, 2008

International credit card scam busted - - 15 Dec 08

When Kizito Ojoni and George Adesanya appear in the Johannesburg Specialised Commercial Crime Court today (Monday), the crime on the charge sheet will only read "fraud".

But investigators and prosecutors are hoping to convince the court that the pair's crimes are far more serious and that they are at the very top of a very complex international syndicate, believed to have defrauded banks worldwide of tens of millions of rands.

Prosecutors were expected to argue that when Ojoni - believed to be the brains behind the operation - was busted a month ago, he was already under correctional supervision for a separate fraud charge.

Ojoni and Adesanya were arrested on November 12 at storage warehouse in Honeydew, north-west of Johannesburg, where they were allegedly producing fake credit cards.

Investigators who arrested the pair red-handed described their operation as highly professional and the storage room where they worked from as a credit card factory.

Police raided the storage room after a member of the public saw an electric cord running into one of the storerooms, which should have been used only to house furniture and other goods.

When officers pounced on the hideout, they found a printing machine producing authentic-looking credit cards.

With the machine was a list of names and credit card numbers, including the CVC security numbers, that were being cloned.

In addition, police confiscated a credit card reader and writer, computer software and fake magnetic strips at the counterfeit credit card factory.

Detectives also seized various foreign currency, including hundreds of US dollars, and fake American and British passports.

According to police, the men were allegedly producing fake credit cards of more than 40 banks around the world, mostly from the US, Europe and Australia.

"In all my 18 years of investigating this type of fraud I have never come across such a well-organised credit card-manufacturing factory," said Ashley Hanscombe, a manager of card forensic investigations at Nedbank.

"These guys are at the very top of the syndicate."

Hanscombe added that the men's crime could run into millions of rands, as most of the cards seized had credit limits in pounds and euros.

"If you take that into account, we are talking millions. This is very much an international syndicate because we even found international courier slips in their factory, which suggests that they are big," he said.

Ojoni and Adesanya's operation is believed to be just one of a countless number of fake credit card syndicates operating in Gauteng.

The men are believed to recruit runners, who in turn recruit waiters and bartenders to skim people's credit card details with a hand-held device small enough to carry in a pocket.

These credit card details are then passed on to them and an authentic-looking credit card is produced.

During the raid of the facility, police also found numerous emails from people all over the world sending Ojoni credit card numbers.

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on December 15, 2008

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