THE man who was found in possession of 150 ATM cards, in Mbeya Region last week, had the consent of the genuine card holders to carry out financial transactions to clear the debts they owed him, police have said.
The man was arrested but has now been set free. The Mbeya Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Diwani Athumani, told the 'Daily News' that the police released the man, Jumanne Magere (28), after investigations revealed that the card holders were aware of the transactions and the use of their cards.
"The card holders had bought various items on loan from Magere's shop and they submitted their cards to him so that he could withdraw the money they owed him from financial banks," said the RPC.
RPC Athumani said that more than half of the card holders have admitted to submitting their cards to Mr Magere after buying various items including radio sets, televisions, mattresses, bicycles as well as sawing machines.
He pointed out that Magere, together with three other suspects, were last week arrested at the Tukuyu Branch of the National Microfinance Bank (NMB) after withdrawing about 20m/- using ATM cards that belonged to different people. "Three other people were apprehended after allegedly helping Magere to carry out the transactions using the ATM cards," he said.
The Mbeya RPC named the suspects as Joseph Peter (20), who accomplished his secondary school education last year in Bunda District, Mara Region, Juma Kabelo (28) and Miraji Ketaha (34), who are residents of Msasani in Tukuyu.
Narrating the incident, Rungwe District Commissioner Crispin Meela said that he received a call from a good Samaritan informing him that there were four people withdrawing money frequently at the NMB using many ATM cards.
"Furthermore, he told me that even the faces of those people were not familiar to the people of Tukuyu, so I decided to call the Officer Commanding District (OCD)," he said. The DC said that when the suspects were arrested, police found them with 150 ATM cards and cash amounting to 20,543,200/- which they had already withdrawn from various bank accounts.
However, a senior official of NMB told this paper that it was against the bank regulations for the ATM card to be used by someone else, apart from the bank account holder. He insisted that the cards have been programmed to be used by card holders only.
"This is against the bank's regulations because no one (except the card holder) has the right to know the status of his or her account and the password," said the bank official who declined to disclose her name since she has no mandate to comment on behalf of the bank.