Grootfontein transfers N$150k to fraudsters

17 May 2019 | Crime

The Otjozondjupa police are investigating a case of fraud after the Grootfontein municipality transferred about N$150 000 to fraudsters.

This was confirmed by Grootfontein acting CEO, Arnold Ameb, who refused to shed more light on the matter as it is being investigated by the police.

Namibian Sun understands the money was paid into a Standard Bank account created by the fraudsters, who provided the municipality with letters claiming that Rubicon Security had changed its banking details.

According to copies of proof of payment slips seen by Namibian Sun, Ameb and chief accountant Martha Hamunyela authorised the payment requests submitted by the town's accountant Serah Hialulwa.

The payments were reportedly made while the municipality's finance executive Ileni Hainghumbi, who was recently reinstated, was on suspension.

The first payment of N$74 923.23 was authorised on 29 January, while a second payment of the same amount was authorised on 27 February.

The fraud came to light when Rubicon Security enquired in March why it had not received payments for January and February. Ameb approached the Grootfontein police on 6 March and opened a case of fraud.

Rubicon Security director Christo Groenewald said they noticed that the municipality had not made payments into their bank account.

When they made enquiries, they learnt the money was paid into another account.

Groenewald said they never instructed the Grootfontein municipality to change the company's banking details.

He added Rubicon Security's headquarters is in Tsumeb, while the fraudsters' letterheads said Henties Bay, which he says should have sounded alarm bells for the municipality.

“So many people are trying their luck by informing your specific debtor that your banking details have changed; we see that a lot in the industry,” he said.

“When you receive such a letter, you should phone that office and make sure you speak to a person you know, to confirm whether the banking details have changed.”

He added it is very strange how the fraudsters got away with the money, as financial institutions are very strict when one opens a bank account these days.

KENYA KAMBOWE

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