The police in Boksburg believe they may have cracked a syndicate that had been involved in romance scams to swindle hundreds of thousands of rands from lonely unsuspecting men before disappearing without a trace.
Boksburg SAPS spokesperson Sgt Ntsako Ledwaba said a Boksburg man was recently arrested for his alleged involvement in online romance fraud, where a victim lost about R1-million after being lured into a relationship and subsequently persuaded to quit his job and withdraw his life savings.
The investigating officer, Det Const Faza Ntimbani, and his team pounced on the alleged fraudster, who hails from Uganda, at his home in Everleigh following an extensive investigation into the case.
The man, who allegedly operates with a woman to target men, was charged with fraud. He appeared in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court on August 30 and is due back in court early next week for a formal bail application. His female accomplice allegedly vanished with the victim’s money.
How the man parted with most of his life savings
According to police reports, the unnamed victim in his late 50s from Thembisa was reportedly left bankrupt and heartbroken after he was conned into giving a total of R950 000 of his savings to scammers who stole his heart to steal his money.
The victim reportedly told investigators that early last year he started his search for love online before he quickly found himself in a ‘relationship’ with a Boksburg North woman who is 20 years younger than him. He was attracted to her after they met on a popular website for single people.
The pair arranged for a face-to-face meet-up, but the woman reportedly told him as part of her cultural practice before they could proceed to start their life together, the man needed to first meet her parents who would introduce him to her ancestors.
Ritual and prayer
The man agreed and subsequently met with the woman’s family in Boksburg North. As part of the ritual, the potential ‘son-in-law’ was reportedly taken to an address in Boksburg North, where the ritual was performed in a ‘dark room’ with a burning clay pot.
The family member who operated as a traditional healer made contact with the so-called ancestors and they started talking to them.
During the ritual, the voices of the said ancestors came from the clay pot and told the man they could see he was the perfect husband-to-be for their daughter.
After a small ritual and prayer over the clay pot emitting smoke, they opened their eyes and the pot had suddenly been filled with cash (R10 000) and a message from the ancestors, informing the victim the money was his, a gift from the ancestors.
Ancestors promise to multiply the money
Moments after gaining his trust, the ‘ancestors’ told him that to help the ‘perfect couple’ start their new life together, they wanted to gift them lots of money, apparently as a dowry to the foreseen marriage.
However, that could only be done on condition that he resigns from his work, withdraws the resignation pay-outs and give it to her in-laws’ ancestors to multiply for him and his ‘wife-to-be’.
Everything felt real to the man who had fallen head over heels in love with his new girlfriend. He resigned from work and gave his pay-outs to the girlfriend’s family for the ancestors to multiply.
The man told police he gave them the money at intervals over some time, starting with a R730 000 lump sum.
However, what was supposed to be a perfect relationship with lots of money turned out to be a nightmare for the man, after being scammed out of almost all his life savings.
He discovered the family he gave the money to had moved from Boksburg North to a rental property in Parkrand.
At one instance, he went to the address in Parkrand and they told him they were still waiting for the ancestors to perform the miracles. At a later stage, he returned to the house and the family was no longer there. When he called, they told him they were on top of the mountain praying for his money to multiply.
A string of phone calls in the months that followed went unanswered, and the owner of the house they rented in Parkrand confirmed the family had vacated the property. It was at that moment he discovered it was all a lie.
The heartbroken man then reported the matter to the Boksburg police who immediately initiated an investigation into the fraud and eventually found one of the suspects.
In April 2018, the Advertiser reported that a Sunward Park woman had been left singing the blues after a so-called sangoma conned her out of almost R1-m.
The woman thought she was about to hit the jackpot after the conman offered her a deal, which sounded too good to be true.
Sgt Ntsako Ledwaba pointed out that despite many previous warnings they issued, people still fall for the same types of scams.
“I know you can find love online, but you could also find yourself falling for a con artist who will gain your trust and rob you blind. People should be alert of opportunistic criminals promising they can multiply their money and make them millionaires,” warned Ledwaba.
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