The Herald (Harare)

2 May 2012

Zimbabwe: Honeymoon Over for ATM Card Thief

A long run of vandalising ATM machines, stealing ATM cards and then later stealing cash has come to an end for a Mutare man who operated in Gweru, Shurugwi and Masvingo. Johannes Sengwana (38) of 257, Old Zororo, Sakubva, Mutare, would block the ATMs, resulting in clients' cards being held.

He would then patiently wait as the cardholder tried the card several times, closely watching the client punching the digits for the pin number while memorising them.

In the end, the frustrated cardholder would leave his or her card in the ATM machine.

Police said the suspect would then retrieve the ATM card and take it to a different machine at another branch where he would withdraw money.

Luck ran out for Sengwana, after he repeated the same trick on a Masvingo man who reported the matter to the police.

Police investigations took them to Gweru where they caught Sengwana with a number of ATM cards belonging to other people.

Among the cards was one belonging to the Masvingo man.

Sengwana, who is unemployed, has been appearing before the courts in Shurugwi since January.

He was last week tried before Shurugwi magistrate Mrs Evia Matura facing a charge of fraud and then remanded in custody to May 9 for judgment.

Prosecutor Mr Donald Chashaya said on October 27, 2010, Mr Gimiel Mubatsa, an ambulance driver at Morgenster Hospital in Masvingo, went to Kingdom Bank to withdraw money from an ATM.

Mr Chashaya said Mr Mubatsa inserted his card into the machine, but it got stuck.

The court heard that on the same day, Sengwana, who was in Masvingo, managed to retrieve the ATM card and withdrew US$360 from Mr Mubatsa's account. Mr Chashaya said the following day, Mr Mubatsa made a report to the bank supervisor that his ATM card had been intercepted.

They could not find the card in the ATM machine.

Sengwana was arrested on December 23, 2010 in Gweru and was found in possession of four ATM cards belonging to other people.

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