Random ATM scams confirmed in Port Alfred

Reports of random ATM scams and attempted card cloning have surfaced, with the latest incident reported by local business owners John and Renate Cooper.

According to the couple, Renate was in the process of completing a transaction at the Absa ATM in Port Alfred CBD when they noticed an unidentified man at the ATM window after they used it. According to the couple the man started to complain that the ATM would not take his card, as they had not correctly completed their transaction.

“But we did have our slip and we had our card back, so we told him, the machine is working and we were finished,” said Renate.

Renate said the man then went to the other ATM and made a phone call. “Immediately another man was at our side, pushing his card into the machine. He also told us we must finish our transaction, as the machine wouldn’t take his card,” she said.

Renate said she and her husband noticed that he inserted the card the wrong way around and, to show him that the machine was working, Renate inserted the card again, and the normal cash withdrawal menu popped up again. Renate immediately cancelled the process, as she started feeling insecure about the situation.

“We left them still shouting after us, that they cannot draw money because of us,” she said.

The couple informed the police of the incident, and were advised to cancel the card and apply for a new one.

The Police also told them that, on the same day, June 11, somebody at the FNB ATM counter in town had a similar encounter and had had R2 000 withdrawn from their account.

Port Alfred SAPS have confirmed there had been random reports of people being scammed and card cloning incidents.

“This is happening on an occasional basis. The community is urged to always remain cautious at ATM’s. Do not accept assistance from strangers. If you notice unnecessary loitering and you are not comfortable with the presence of any individual at an ATM, alert the security or SAPS immediately,” said SAPS spokeswoman captain Mali Govender.

In a CPF meeting in June, head of the detectives unit detective colonel Yogan Reddy, spoke on the importance of warning residents, especially the elderly, about scammers and fraud crimes, particularly with specific mention of internet-related scams like buying and selling goods on Gumtree, Facebook and ATM scams.

Reddy emphasised that internet fraud is rife; “we are hitting so many dead ends,” he said.

“Every day I hear of something or someone being defrauded; this includes identity theft, fraudulent internet transactions, posing as selling specialised items and it all comes to a dead end.”

He expressed the importance of not trusting anybody at ATMs except for persons working for the banks.

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