Pair arrested after thousands stolen from medical savings

A Milnerton woman and Bellville man, who both had money stolen from their medical aid savings accounts, worked together to track down the alleged perpetrators.

A man and woman were arrested on fraud charges in March 7 in connection with the case and have since appeared in the Bellville Magistrate’s Court.

They’re accused of siphoning R41 000 from the savings account belonging to Joy Robertson’s husband, Lyle, and R15 000 from the account of Nicolaas Loubser, in February and March this year. Both savings accounts were with the Discovery Health Medical Scheme.

Ms Robertson says she and her husband seldom used their medical aid and had built up a lot of savings. But when her teenage son needed some medication, she checked the balance and realised it was lower than what it should be.

“We had about two years of savings on this account, and when we called Discovery, it was said that R41 000 had been used already.”

She became suspicious because she hadn’t received any statements or emails from Discovery Health.

According to Ms Robertson, the fraudulent transactions had been made at various pharmacies in Blouberg, Milnerton, Table View and elsewhere in the northern suburbs from Tuesday February 8 to February 19.

Someone was posing as her husband and using a fake email address to contact the pharmacies before he collected the medication.

The man spent savings on cold-and-flu medication, vitamins and muscle relaxants.

“We found out at the pharmacies that he would call or email them before collecting the medication, perhaps to avoid being at the shop too long.”

Ms Robertson says the man appears to have known all her husband’s details and all the family’s first names.

She alerted the pharmacies, but the man never visited a single pharmacy more than once.

She says Discovery Health was helpful and immediately reimbursed the full R41 000 of savings taken from the account.

She turned to social media to warn others and it was on Facebook that she connected with Mr Loubser, who had lost R7 000 from his Discovery savings on Friday March 4.

When Mr Loubser noticed a further R8 000 vanish from his account on Monday March 7, he immediately called the pharmacy where that purchase was made.

“I spoke to the pharmacist who said they were waiting for me to collect the medication, but I told them that I did not request any medication.”

The pharmacist told him to hold the line, while they called “the other Nicolaas Loubser” who said he would be available later that afternoon.

The man and his female accomplice, posing as Loubser’s sister, arrived at the mall via an e-hailing service. He waited in the car and sent the woman inside while Mr Loubser watched and then confronted the woman in the pharmacy.

“The pharmacist asked the woman if I was her brother and she said no, but I told her (the female accomplice) that I am the real Mr Loubser.”

Mr Loubser told the woman to go to the car with the package from the pharmacy while the security guards followed at a distance.

“When she got to the car, she told him not to run,” says Mr Loubser.

When the security guards apprehended the man, it was 1pm, and they waited another eight hours for the police to arrive, says Mr Loubser.

Neither he nor Ms Robertson know how the two alleged fraudsters got hold of their personal information, but they are warning the public to always check in with their medical aid schemes and keep identity documents safe.

Medi-rite’s Chandre White confirmed that the alleged fraudsters had been caught at the De Grendel Medi-rite store in Burgundy Estate.

“Our staff has been encouraged to check all identity documents and match the face on the document with the purchaser,” she says.

Discovery Health Medical Scheme’s spokeswoman, Roseanne Harris, confirmed that the Robertsons and Mr Loubser had been fully reimbursed following an investigation by Discovery.

“After any health-care event, it is very important that members study the bills from their health-care providers. Medical schemes will also send members a statement, with a detailed breakdown of all claims received.

“Members should ensure that the claims correspond to the care they have received.”

Medical aid members should be aware of any suspicious transactions and alert their medical scheme if these are suspected, she says. The public can also call 0800 00 45 11 to give anonymous tip-offs.

The alleged fraudsters, a 34-year-old man and a 43-year-old woman, were each granted R2 000 bail, at their second court appearance, on Wednesday March 16, according to clerk of the court André de Villiers.

They are due to appear in court again on Wednesday April 20 and have both applied for legal aid.

Parow police spokesperson, Captain Kevin Williams, said the suspects are no longer in police custody but he could not confirm if they had paid their bail.