10 nabbed in sting by Sassa and police to foil illegal lending
TEN PEOPLE have been arrested in a sting operation carried out jointly by the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and the SAPS.
The group, three women and seven men aged between 30 and 50, was arrested in Nigel in the early hours of yesterday morning at ATM machines and a local merchant store.
This follows an intelligence-led investigation into the illegal lending of money using Sassa cards as collateral.
“We found people who were withdrawing money from the bank on behalf of the owners of the cards.
“We are investigating if these cards were stolen or otherwise,” said police spokesperson Colonel Kay Makhubele.
“We also arrested the managers of this operation, who are Chinese,” he added.
Paseka Letsatsi of Sassa said the suspects were found in possession of a lot of cash, more than 900 Sassa cards including PINs, as well as two firearms whose legality is the subject of investigations.
Other suspects managed to escape in four cars and the police are currently hot on their heels, he said.
A luxury car was also impounded during the operation.
It is believed that the modus operandi of the suspects was to recruit “vulnerable social grant recipients” to the scheme and offer them loans provided they surrendered their Sassa cards and PINs.
“The affected Sassa beneficiaries would have to collect their monthly grants from these money lenders after the repayments are subtracted.
“These acts are illegal as they don’t comply with every provision of the National Credit Act of 2005. “A grant recipient would allegedly be given a loan without the lender even conducting basic tests of affordability and usually result in over-indebtedness.
“This goes against the very grain of the government’s war against poverty and lands social grant beneficiaries in a terrible state of affairs.
“A vicious cycle of indebtedness would then begin and the beneficiary gets tempted to repay one loan with a new one,” Letsatsi said.
“Sassa applauds the efforts of the team which led to these arrests, and particularly the work done by SAPS to ensure that the poor are protected and these illegal lenders are thrown in jail.
“These national operations will continue until the very last of these unscrupulous lenders are brought to book.
“Beneficiaries are once more warned not to use their Sassa cards for borrowing money because it’s illegal.”
Members of the public are requested to call the police or contact Sassa at 0800 60 10 11 to report illegal money lending.
A woman was arrested in October 2016 for being in possession of a fake Sassa card which she alleged she had bought for R1 000.
This may raise eyebrows, indicating, as it does, how much Sassa cards are worth on the black market.