Caught at last, a brazen Jo’burg
For years it seemed to all those people caught in Tracy Morrison’s intricate webs of deceit that she would never be called to account
Tracy Morrison boasts that she is the biological daughter of Al Pacino and has either wed or bedded Hollywood’s A-listers. In South Africa she has hung out with Jo’burg’s mink-and-manure set, even persuading some to invest in her movies. She supposedly seduced cricket legends such as the late Hansie Cronje and stalked former Idols presenter Colin Moss under the guise of launching his Hollywood career. At one point, she even claimed she was married to Stan Katz, the former chief executive officer of Radio 702.
If it sounds unbelievable, it is probably because it is.
Fraud, stalking, ID theft, forgery and child abduction are just a few of the crimes she has been accused of perpetrating over three decades, apparently with impunity.
Now 57, for most of her life the South African born and bred Morrison has apparently constructed a star-spangled fantasy in which she is the leading character. Jo’burg’s affluent suburbs have been her hunting ground, with her allegedly conning scores of victims who became unwitting characters in her bizarre scams.
She was finally arrested on September 14 and will reappear at the Randburg magistrate’s court on multiple charges. She has been denied bail and is being held in the Johannesburg Women’s Correctional Centre, otherwise known as Sun City. Ironically, Morrison recently bragged about a bogus renovation project she was undertaking at a popular Pilanesberg resort.
I first exposed Morrison in this newspaper 20 years ago. Back then, I believed she was just a delusional, two-bit hustler — a fake stargazer — whose facade crumpled as rapidly as her pseudo-American twang when she was uncovered as an imposter. I thought she had learnt her lesson. It seems I was wrong.
Twenty years later, her alleged scams have evolved into much more sophisticated, bizarre, sinister and downright cruel crimes. She has become an equal opportunity criminal, allegedly targeting rich, poor, old, young, white and black alike.
In February this year, Special Assignment was contacted by Janine*, a primary school teacher and the distraught mother of one of her more recent victims. Janine’s son, a young professional, had answered an ad on Gumtree for a housemate in Sandton. “It looked like the ideal environment for my son because it seemed to offer a warm, nurturing home,” she ruefully recalls. Morrison supposedly owned the house and lived there with her daughter, Gina Latham.
“She said she was American and that Clint Eastwood was her neighbour. She owned several properties and, together with her daughter, she was flipping [refurbishing and then selling] them.”
Janine said her son paid the deposit but became suspicious about his “landlady’s” bona fides, especially when she showed him the website of her interior design company called Purple Chair Interiors.
He discovered the website was comprised of stock images appropriated from Google. He declined to move in but his deposit was never reimbursed and he was subjected to a barrage of WhatsApp and email insults from Latham, the daughter he had never met.
Janine said she discovered that Latham was one of several aliases Morrison used to defraud her housemates and her landlords. Pretending to be the owner of dozens of mansions, she would pocket her housemates’ deposits and rentals.
Special Assignment has interviewed more than 10 former housemates and landlords and has seen documentary evidence alleging that she owes her landlords millions in unpaid rent and has fleeced housemates of thousands of rands in deposits.
She is also accused of befriending or employing attractive young (mostly) women as sales consultants for her bogus interior design businesses, even coercing them to invest in furniture that never arrives or forming fake joint ventures costing them hundreds of thousands of rands.
One of her recent alleged victims, Briony*, who has laid charges of fraud against her, explains: “She lives this lavish lifestyle and she wants you to see that she has all this money. What you don’t realise until it’s too late is that this is your money she’s spending.”
Briony and her husband invested R350 000 in Morrison’s bogus business.
is in possession of affidavits and documents from more than 15 people detailing Morrison’s alleged crime sprees. The show has also uncovered that, from about 2005 to 2010, Morrison impersonated an FBI officer, and on this basis was contracted to conduct “private” investigations into robberies at companies, such as the Wynberg branch of Cummins, a global corporation that manufacture engine parts. The investigations were bogus.
“The former company MD [managing director] Mike Holtham insisted on employing her services, even though we told him there are no FBI officers actively operating in South Africa,” says a former employee who requested anonymity. “She was ultimately exposed as a fake but not before she had pocketed about R350 000 and falsely arrested four of my colleagues for the robbery.”
Gerald Emery, one of the falsely arrested employees, angrily recalls being manhandled by Sandton police officers and kept in solitary confinement for several days, before appearing in shackles in the Randburg magistrate’s court, where the case was immediately dismissed.
That was in 2006. In 2007, Morrison allegedly scammed another company, PPE Technologies, in Nelspruit, to conduct another fake investigation into a theft at the company.
But the most brazen crime she is accused of was the abduction of a seven-year-old from within the Sandton police station in 2006.
The child was caught up in a messy custody battle. Her mother had falsely accused her father of child abuse and had confided in Morrison, her friend at the time. Because the child had a United States passport, Morrison allegedly hatched a plan to trick the child’s father into relinquishing custody.
Special Assignment has the telephone recording in which, using her fake American accent, Morrison called the father from Sandton police station, assuring him of his innocence but describing the child as a “pathological liar” in need of intensive therapy. Morrison then asked the father to meet her inside the police station, where she gave him an unenviable choice: either he would be arrested for child abuse (although she believed in his innocence) and denied bail, or Morrison would per-
Bamboozled: For 30 years Tracy Morrison allegedly conned people out of their cash and in one instance abducted a child