Pen­sioner caught in bill swin­dle

Bo­gus City Power pair strikes

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX anna.cox@inl.co.za

PENSIONERS and other vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents who are in ar­rears or have high bills with City Power should be­ware of fraud­sters pos­ing as of­fi­cials of­fer­ing them “deals”.

An 83-year old El­ton Hill, Joburg, res­i­dent who asked not to be named re­vealed he was caught out by two fraud­sters last month.

“I was not be­hind with my pay­ments, but got a high bill of R13 000 for Novem­ber be­cause the me­ter had not been read.

“I got a call from some­one at City Power who said they no­ticed my ac­count was very high. He said they would like to come to chat to me,” he said.

The two men who came to speak to the pen­sioner were smartly dressed and smooth-tongued.

“They knew all our de­tails, in­clud­ing ages and ID num­bers and the ac­count num­ber. They were charm­ing and even spoke about their own fam­i­lies,” he said.

They then told him that he was pay­ing too much and should con­vert to a smart me­ter as it would work out cheaper, and he should qual­ify for a pensioners’ re­bate of 40 per­cent off the R13 000 owing.

“They wanted a cheque of R11 000 for the smart me­ter, an­other for R1 800 to as­sist with the pen­sion re­bate and one for R750 for reg­is­tra­tion, which I very stupidly handed over.

“They were such pleas­ant fel­lows, and they knew all my de­tails, so I didn’t have any rea­son to doubt them,” he said.

They promised to re­turn to in­stall the new me­ters, and, of course, they didn’t.

But not all is lost yet for this pen­sioner as he went to the bank where the cheques were cashed and the bank had the one sus­pect’s ID num­ber on record.

“I hired a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor who has con­firmed the ID num­ber is cor­rect and he has now lo­cated some fam­ily mem­bers. We will even­tu­ally get them, but peo­ple should take a les­son from this and never hand over money to strangers,” he said.

This ap­pears to be a new modus operandi as, in the past, fraud­sters have threat­ened to cut off power to those in ar­rears.

City Power and the City of Joburg of­ten warn res­i­dents never to hand over money to any­one ask­ing for it to re­con­nect elec­tric­ity, pur­chase me­ters or pay rates.

Cus­tomers should only make pay­ments at the City of Joburg cus­tomer walk-in cen­tres or at the util­ity’s of­fices.

Cus­tomers should never make any cash or elec­tronic pay­ments to any City Power of­fi­cial or con­trac­tor at their prop­erty, said City Power spokesper­son Yumna Sheik.

Op­er­a­tion Clean-Up was launched last year, led by the util­ity’s board chair­per­son Frank Chikane, to en­cour­age cus­tomers to re­port crim­i­nal in­ci­dents or cor­rup­tion by of­fi­cials and con­trac­tors of City Power.

Peo­ple can re­port in­ci­dents of fraud and cor­rup­tion or any sus­pi­cious of­fi­cials to the tip-offs anony­mous hot­line 0800 002 587 or email anti cor­rup­tion@tip-offs.com

PIC­TURE:NOKUTHULA MBATHA

SCAMMED: An 83-year-old man, who asked to re­main anony­mous, was swin­dled by bo­gus City Power of­fi­cials who came to his home in El­ton Hill, Joburg.

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