Court in Cape Town hears about syndicates scamming motor dealerships

African News Agency

Court in Cape Town hears about syndicates scamming motor dealerships

Scam syndicates targeting motor dealerships with fraudulent applications for vehicle financing, persisted with the scam until caught, a court in Cape Town heard on Wednesday.

Shaun Ellis, the business manager at Barlowworld Motor Retail in Kuils River, in Cape Town’s northern suburbs, told the court he went to great lengths to verify the authenticity of ID and other documents submitted by applicants wanting vehicle finance.

Banks had their own experts and specialised departments that focussed on fraud, but he was not trained to recognise fraud, he said.

He testified at the trial of self-employed Zweixolile Bokolo, of Nyanga East, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of fraud and forgery.

Bokolo is on trial in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court, before magistrate Sabrina Sonnenberg.

Prosecutor Jacques Smith alleges that supporting documentation that he submitted in his application for R178, 900 vehicle finance, six years ago, such as his monthly income and bank statements, was false and forged.

Ellis said he was the link between banks and clients purchasing vehicles, and he explained the process in detail to the court.

He had to ensure that the client understood how much he or she had to pay each month, and that there was enough money in his or her account on the day that the bank debit order went through.

Asked if he recognised Bokolo, he said: “I do recognise him, but I cannot recall the day 10 years ago that I assisted him.”

Ellis was cross-examined at length by defence attorney, Liesl Vermaak.

He told how syndicates would target a particular motor dealership, “to see how many cars they can get away with before being caught”.

He told the court: “When we submit an application for finance to the bank, we include all the documentation such as the buyer’s ID, a copy of his or her driver’s license, proof of address and the buyer’s bank statement for the past three months.

“The bank’s fraud experts will validate the documents and, once we receive final approval of the application for finance, we proceed with the transaction.”

He said bank statements were often on a bank’s letterhead, “and the chance of us picking up fraud is minimal”.

He added: “We are not fraud experts, and we get no training.”

The defence asked if he could say “truthfully, and under Oath”, that he had never taken any short cuts, such as to certify a copy of a document without first seeing the original.

He replied: “Everything I have said has been truthful. If I take a short cut, I can be barred. For me, this is a career, not just a job that I’m doing.
“There is no way under the sun that I will ever take a short cut for a client.”

He added: “There is a way to do it, and I do not deviate from it – the process never changes.”

Vermaak said Bokolo was adamant that he had used original documentation, and not forgeries, in his application for finance.

The case continues on Thursday.

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SOURCEAfrican News Agency