Widow Falls Victim Of Card Cloning Scam

A Bulawayo widow lost more than $40 000 after a Harare man allegedly cloned her late husband’s bank card and went on to conduct illegal point of sale (POS) transactions at various retail outlets. 

Timmy Kuzhangaira (27) of Sunningdale suburb yesterday appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya facing fraud charges. He was granted $500 bail and remanded to March 20 for trial. 

Kuzhangaira was ordered not to interfere with State witnesses and to report at Bulawayo Central Police Station thrice a week as part of his bail conditions.

Prosecuting, Mr Nkathazo Dlodlo said between January 31 and February 7 this year, Kuzhangaira went to Bradfield Shopping Centre in Bulawayo and allegedly spotted the complainant Ms Margaret Watson buying groceries at TM Pick n Pay Supermarket using her late husband’s bank card. 

The court heard that while an unsuspecting Ms Watson was paying for her groceries using the card, Kuzhangaira allegedly managed to copy her card number and the pin code. 

“He then cloned the card and went on to make several POS transactions at various retail outlets in Bulawayo and in the process prejudicing the complainant of $43 013, 77,” said Mr Dlodlo. Ms Watson discovered the illegal transactions on her late husband’s account and reported the matter to the police.

During investigations detectives saw Kuzhangaira in a Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) video footage at TM Pick n Pay Supermarket at Bradfield Shopping Centre. He was allegedly captured while in the process of transacting using the cloned bank card. 

Police detectives accidently bumped into him at the same shopping centre and he was arrested. He was found in possession of five more cloned cards in his possession. 

The court heard that Kuzhangaira had turned TM Pick n Pay Supermarket at Bradfield Shopping Centre into a hunting ground where he allegedly targetted mostly the elderly shoppers. Card cloning is the production of counterfeit bank cards by criminals after acquiring information contained in the magnetic strip of the bank card. 

Criminals get this information through gadgets known as skimmers.

Card cloning is becoming rampant in Zimbabwe as card cloning syndicates are taking advantage of the uptake of plastic money by business organisations and members of the public. According to police, 154 cases of card cloning were reported in 2018. 

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Retailers (CZR) said its members have also fallen victim to the scammers, who in some instances steal POS machines from shops and service stations and upload data which they use to clone debit cards. 

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