Pretoria – The Hawks, in conjunction with the banking industry, have arrested three suspects for motor vehicle application fraud amounting to R50 million.

The suspects, 33-year-old Adele Coetzee, her husband, 37-year-old Marius Coetzee, and his mother, 60-year-old Kitty Coetzee, were arrested in Brits in the North West during an operation held over the weekend.

The operation originated in the Western Cape.

The suspects were involved in a vehicle-purchase scheme by applying for hire-purchase finance from banking institutions using fraudulent documents.

According to Hawks spokesperson, Captain Paul Ramaloko, 70 fraudulent financing transactions were made to the banks between 2012 and 2014, which resulted in a loss of more than R50 million for the banking industry.

“During the operation, the investigating team recovered 10 vehicles at a farm in the Brits vicinity where the Coetzees fled to from the Western Cape,” Ramaloko said.

The Coetzees appeared in the Brits Regional Court on Monday on more than 70 counts of fraud and the matter was postponed to Monday, 15 September.

The suspects remain in custody.

Another 50 vehicles, which were purchased fraudulently, are still being sought.

Any person with information that may lead to the recovery of these vehicles or who wants to surrender a vehicle voluntarily has been asked to contact Colonel Mark Purchase on 082 850 9730.

Lieutenant General Anwar Dramat, the National Head of the Hawks, said that this was an innovative method of stealing vehicles.

The CEO of the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC), Kalyani Pillay, said: “These arrests will assist in fighting application fraud and will certainly send out a strong message to criminals that such fraudulent activity will not be tolerated.”