Be wary of ‘SMS moneylenders’



June 6, 2016
Be wary of ‘SMS moneylenders’

DEEPER IN DEBT: Estelle Plato, 46, says she was scammed by Liberty Loans. CREDIT: Bertram Malgas

Desperate mother loses R5 500 as she is ‘scammed by moneylenders’.

A single mom’s desperate attempt to get rid of her debt ended with her allegedly being swindled out of R5 500 by a moneylender.

And instead of getting the R10 000 she applied for, Estelle Plato, 46, was left with “empty promises” and owing even more people money.

Estelle, a machinist and mother of four from Manenberg, says she responded to an SMS from a company called Liberty Loans, offering her “financial aid”.

She says: “I have been struggling to put even food on the table. When I got this SMS two weeks ago saying I could qualify for a loan, even if I was blacklisted, I thought it was the answer to my prayers.”

She contacted a Mr J Williams, the consultant whose name was on the SMS, along with a cellphone number.

After a few telephone conversations, Liberty Loans approved her R10 000 loan, but said an extra R10 000 would be added if she paid in “lawyers fees” of R1500, and an additional R4000 for “transfer fees”.

She borrowed the money from neighbours, and paid it into three different bank accounts, none bearing the name Liberty Loans.

“I thought once I have the money I can pay them all back. All the time I communicated with Mr Williams and Mr Adams. They were very helpful and reassuring and professional. I believed all their promises and lies,” she says crying.

She eventually got an SMS to say R20 000 had been transferred into her bank account.

But when she got to her bank, her balance was still zero, and when she called Mr Adams, he demanded a further R2 500.

That’s when Estelle’s neighbour, Aziza Lott, 43, stepped in.

“This man was just conning her … I said he should cancel and he said R180 MTN-airtime will start the cancellation procedure.

“They took advantage of a very desperate woman,” says Aziza angrily.

The Daily Voice contacted Mr Adam, who confirmed Estelle was his client.

Asked why she had to pay thousands of Rands up front, he said: “Transfer fees do not fall out of the sky. She needs to make the last payment of R2 500 and her loan will be approved. None of my other clients are this difficult. We are not a scam.”

Asked for an office address or landline number, he said: “We work via phone, no other way.”

Asked for his credit provider registration number, as set out by the National Credit Regulator, he hung up. His phone has been off since Friday.

Police spokesman Captain FC van Wyk says the matter will be investigated once charges have been laid.

Estelle says: “I just want my money to pay back the people I owe. I was so stupid.”

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