Syn­di­cate works sly pen­sioner scam

Fears that some city of­fi­cials might be in­volved

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ANNA COX @an­na­cox

JOBURG pensioners are be­ing scammed out of thou­sands of rand by a so­phis­ti­cated syn­di­cate of con artists. And it ap­pears that cer­tain City of Joburg of­fi­cials are pro­vid­ing the vic­tims’ personal and ac­count in­for­ma­tion to the scam­sters.

On Wed­nes­day, The Star re­ported that an El­ton Hill man had been de­frauded of R13 000 by these smooth talk­ers.

On Thurs­day, in re­sponse to the ar­ti­cle, a Malvern man told his story, which in­volves the same modus operandi and the same well-dressed, smooth-talk­ing in­di­vid­u­als who de­scribed them­selves to their vic­tims as half-In­dian and coloured.

The Malvern man, who is 80, is a re­tired school­teacher. He owns a prop­erty next door to his home that he lets to ten­ants.

“They use very lit­tle wa­ter, us­ing up the free kilo­litres, so their ac­count is al­ways un­der R1. How­ever, for Novem­ber I got a bill of R1 062. I called Thuso House and they told me to take a photo of the me­ter and email it to them,” he said.

The very next day he got a call from some­one say­ing she was from the city and that fi­bre-op­tic ca­bles had been in­stalled, and these were be­ing linked to spe­cial me­ters which would of­fer pensioners a 40 per­cent re­bate.

“It is true that they had been in­stalling the ca­bles, so I be­lieved her,” the man said.

A few days later, some­one ar­rived at his house say­ing his name was Carl Lan­der.

“He gave me his whole fam­ily his­tory. He was elo­quent, well dressed and very friendly, and I very naively be­lieved him, also be­cause he had all my personal de­tails such as my ID num­ber and the prop­er­ties I own.

“These could only have been ob­tained from some­one at the city of­fices,” he said.

The pen­sioner was told that all three wa­ter me­ters would have to be re­placed with a so­lar geyser and pan­els – two in his rented prop­er­ties and one in his own.

“He even climbed onto the roof to see where the pan­els would be in­stalled. I had just cashed in an en­dow­ment pol­icy, so I had some money avail­able,” he said. “He ques­tioned me about my in­come, and said that be­cause I owned other prop­er­ties, I would not qual­ify for the pen­sioner re­bate, but said he would mo­ti­vate my case for me to the higher pow­ers.

“I fell for it hook, line and sinker. He said it had to be done be­fore Christ­mas and he pres­sured me into pay­ing up­front. He drove me to the bank, and that was the last I heard of him.”

An­other vic­tim, also a pen­sioner, lives in Kens­ing­ton.

Out of the blue, he got a call of­fer­ing him a 40 per­cent pen­sioner dis­count on his ac­count.

“As pensioners, my wife and I live hand to mouth ev­ery month, so this sounded like a dream come true.”

The man, now call­ing him­self Carl Naidoo, ar­rived on his doorstep within five min­utes of the call.

“He had all our de­tails and then asked about our in­come, which is only our pen­sion. He told us he would have to re­place the me­ters to link them to the pen­sioner’s dis­count. I asked why and he could not give me an an­swer, say­ing he was not a tech­ni­cal per­son.”

He asked for R1 600, and the pensioners said they did not have the money.

“He said if I could just give him a small de­posit of any amount, I could pay off the rest, and the bal­ance would be added to my ac­count over two in­stal­ments.” A few days later he got a call from some­one in Dur­ban ask­ing for his ac­count de­tails so he could de­posit the money.

The pen­sioner re­fused to re­lease his de­tails and said he would put a cheque in the post.

“I swore at him and told him I had con­tacted the po­lice.”

The Cleve­land po­lice said three cases had been opened and many more re­ported, but not pur­sued, be­cause no money had been ex­changed.

Cap­tain Jo­han Jor­daan said all in­ci­dents in­volved an In­dian and a coloured male.

“Res­i­dents should phone the city coun­cil and en­quire about such peo­ple. They can also phone the Cleve­land po­lice sta­tion.”

Any­one else who had been de­frauded should open a case, he said.

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