Julius Cobbett
3 minute read
15 Aug 2013
6:00 am

Your money’s not safe in the bank

Julius Cobbett

The experience of Business reader Dr JM Makua should be a warning to anyone with a bank account. The message is clear: your money is not safe.

Image courtesy stock.xchnge

There are literally hundreds of entities that could deduct money from your account via a NAEDO or non-authenticated early debit order.

When these entities are caught deducting money without permission, all they need to do is blame the transaction on an “error” and carry on as normal. The victim might even get an apology.

Standard Bank customer Dr JM Makua is one such victim. Makua contacted Business frustrated by unauthorised debits going off his account almost every month. In recent weeks, the intensity of these debits increased. Recent debits were: R299.99 to SS Direct on July 26, R99.00 to Coast to Coast International on July 29, R299.99 to Quadricol on July 31 and R349 to Destination Dynamics on August 2.

Standard Bank supplied Business with contact details for the above entities, but said it did not have any identifying details such as company registration numbers or directors’ names.

Business has placed multiple phone calls to the four entities. Only Coast to Coast and Destination Dynamics answered. This demonstrates how difficult it is for victims of debit order fraud to demand an explanation from the companies who raid their bank accounts.

At the time of writing, only Coast to Coast had responded to Business’s requests to supply proof that Makua had indeed requested the service he was charged for. After an investigation, Coast to Coast spokesman Diane Moodley informed Business that Makua’s account had been debited in “error”. Moodley says that a consultant “miscaptured a digit” when processing an order for another, supposedly genuine, Coast to Coast customer.

Makua says: “This is deliberate fraud. There is no error here.”

Business has been able to determine that Coast to Coast International is a trading name for 31-year-old Pravesh Majlisbhai. Majlisbhai did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

There are multiple complaints on consumer website Hellopeter. And they all make the same allegation: that Coast to Coast deducted money from their accounts without permission.

Business asked Moodley what Coast to Coast does. Here is her verbatim reply: “Basically we deal with membership cards like Fusion Benefits. And we also do like home maintenance as well as we provide the customer with lawyers – we basically send out a lawyer if the customer needs one. We also deal with SA Getaways (another entity with a poor Hellopeter track record) meaning that we also deal with holiday vouchers as well (sic).”

Asked what the Coast to Coast’s website was, Moodley said it was www.fusionbenefits.co.za.

Standard Bank senior manager and media complaints liaison Joop Dekker, notes that the bank has no obligation to protect its clients from debit order abuse.

Says Dekker: “Contrary to public belief the bank has indeed no obligation to verify the authenticity of any debit order, and as such the bank merely fulfils the function of a payment facilitator where any debit order is presented for payment.”

It does not matter what bank you’re with. An entity like Coast to Coast has access to any account. A previous Business investigation found similar cases of debit order fraud perpetrated on customers at other banks besides Standard Bank.