18-year-old Durban woman defrauded of inheritance left by late father

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A Durban woman says she is a victim of fraud claiming that her inheritance left to her by her late father was transferred from one bank account to another without her authorisation.

Speaking under condition of anonymity, the 18-year-old believes her details were leaked by a government official at the Master of the High Court in Pietermaritzburg. Now she wants justice.

This Durban woman has asked to remain anonymous. For the purposes of this story, she will be referred to as Sarah.

She says she fears for her life because she is speaking out about her ordeal to get back her inheritance. The funds had been held for her by the Guardian Fund until she turned 18. It falls under the administration of the Master of the High Court. The Fund was established to protect and manage the money of minors until they are old enough to handle their own affairs.

Sarah says her late father was a government employee. Fighting back tears, she says she received a call from a person not known to her who claimed to be verifying her banking details to enable her to receive her inheritance.

“We went to the Pietermaritzburg High Court at Masters Office we were accompanied by our grandmother, to lodge a claim of our inheritance, we were told the money would be paid in three months. As days of the payout were getting closer, I got another call from someone who claimed they are from Pietermaritzburg High Court. They wanted to ensure the money would be paid to a right account, I just confirmed my banking details, to my surprise the person had all my details including my ID number. The man also told me he would pass the call to a Capitec agent. She also claimed to be verifying my banking details, the two said they were trying to prevent fraud,” says Sarah.

Funds transferred out of account

Sarah has bank statements showing that the funds were released from the Guardian Fund into her Capitec bank account. On that same day, a transfer was made out of her account to an unknown Absa account. Now unemployed at 18, she had plans to use the funds to start a small business.

Sarah says she wants justice and for her rightful inheritance to be returned to her.

“I believe my details were sold by someone at the Master’s Office in Pietermaritzburg to these people who stole my money. The people at the High Court knew when the money was to be paid to me, the women who took my money waited and even phoned me to confirm that the money was in the account. All I want is that money is returned to me, I also wish police investigation can ensure whoever is busy working with criminals, giving them information of people who are about to receive their monies, so they can be targeted by criminals. This is a fight I am not willing to let go of. I want my every cent,” says Sarah.

Sarah’s uncle says the ordeal has left the family devastated and under strain. He says her grandmother has been hospitalised several times since the funds went missing.

“My mother is devastated by this ordeal since she is the one who has been looking after my late sister’s children so now when she was hoping the child will be able to look after herself, thieves decide to take all those hopes away. I think banks are protecting criminals in disguise of protecting their clients. In this instance, the bank has even refused to freeze the account where my niece’s money was taken, we have all the proof with the account number. This big bank is not cooperative with the police investigation to ensure the person who received the money is arrested,” says Sarah’s uncle.

KwaZulu-Natal police say they have traced the Absa account holder to Johannesburg. The matter has been handed over to the Hawks.

In an email, Absa says they are investigating all cases of fraud comprehensively, taking unique circumstances into consideration. They further state that their internal controls were not compromised.