An extensive investigation into debit order scams involving the country’s major commercial banks has revealed the existence of organised crime syndicates seemingly operating on a massive scale, says a Fin24 report. The investigation involves the entire financial industry, as well as the Hawks, the police and SARS.

The probe has uncovered that at least R1.6bn a year is being fraudulently debited from the bank accounts of ordinary South Africans.

Around 55m debit orders to the value of R80bn are processed by banks every month. Fin24 says it understands that the investigation has uncovered at least three organised crime syndicates behind the illicit debit orders. It is said to be at an advanced stage, according to two sources close to the investigation.

The investigation spans a number of financial sector regulators, including the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, the Reserve Bank, Payment Association of SA, the Financial Intelligence Centre and SARS. Two court case linked to one of the scams is under way in KZN.

Tim Masela, head of the National Payments System at the Reserve Bank, said that he could not confirm the details of the investigation. However, he did confirm the involvement of the SAPS.

Full Fin24 report