Former Absa employees sentenced for R1 million fraud scheme

Former Absa employees sentenced for R1 million fraud scheme

Two former Absa employees who used their access to the bank’s electronic banking system to carry out fraudulent activities totaling over R1 million have been sentenced for fraud.

The Gqeberha Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in the Eastern Cape sentenced Florika Shenay Owusu, 31, and Abongile Tyusha, 30, for their roles in a fraudulent scheme while employed by Absa between November 2019 and June 2021.

The two were sentenced to five years for fraud and theft and 10 years for money laundering, with four years suspended for five years on the condition that they do not violate the Organised Crime Act during that time. The sentences will run concurrently.

Used access to the system to commit fraud

Regional spokesperson for the Eastern Cape branch of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Luxolo Tyali said that Owusu, who initially worked at the Patensie branch, and Tyusha, who was transferred to the Dutywa branch, used their access to the electronic banking system to engage in fraudulent activities.

“They were entrusted with unique user codes, which the bank used to trace all transactions performed by its employees. They opened Absa accounts in the names of deceased individuals and foreign nationals without their knowledge,” Tyali said.

“They issued debit cards for these accounts to facilitate fraudulent transfers and withdrawals. They identified and reactivated 18 dormant accounts, mainly belonging to foreign passport holders, including deceased South African citizens.”

Following their reactivation, stolen money was sent into the false accounts that Owusu and Tyusha had opened.

Over R1 million stolen funds

Tyali said the stolen funds, totalling over R1 million, were transferred to accounts controlled by the duo, withdrawn, or spent. The stolen money was spread over a number of accounts, including one that belonged to a foreign national whose passport had expired and accounts in the names of deceased people.

At that time, Absa employees are not allowed to disclose any information without the client’s consent.

“Absa’s internal and police investigations led to the arrest of the two who pleaded guilty during the trial. State Advocate Lise Keech argued that a guilty plea is not a sign of remorse and that the bank is the worst place to steal from, as there is no other place where people can keep their money safe,” Tyali said.

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