Police have arrested a coloured man and a Xhosa woman in Gordon’s Bay after two women in Benoni and Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng were scammed out of nearly R1.5 million.
The two suspects, Ignatius Fourie, 34, and Unathi Felecia Tshefu, 39, were arrested on Sunday and appeared in court the next day.
Their cases have been postponed to 13 July in the Benoni Magistrates’ Court.
Meanwhile, PI John Alexander, from Royal Investigations, says the kingpin of the scam, a Nigerian national known as Mr Jackson, is still at large.
“We are hoping the suspects will turn state witness, but they won’t give him up,” Alexander tells the Daily Voice.
Tshefu and Mr. Jackson are a couple and have a child together.
He says the love-struck victims were duped into parting with their kroon.
“One complainant from Benoni hired us after the police seemed to be making no progress on the case,” Alexander tells the Daily Voice.
He believes the scam is being run by an international syndicate and they take months grooming their victims, who in the end readily part with their money.
He says the fraudsters contact the victims on social media or online dating sites and move on to WhatsApp where they declare their undying love.
“This is where they would groom their prey and get as much information as possible, likes and dislikes, what type of activities they do, they will pretend to be from overseas and they will go as far as familiarising themselves with international news, and weather updates to make small talk. They would check your details, widows, divorced, check your lifestyle to determine [y]our financial status.”
He says in his client’s case, who is a woman in her early 50s, was tricked when a skelm pretended to be an American man doing business in Dubai, and even sent her bogus pictures of a white man.
“The complainant joined an internet dating site in October 2019 and received a message from a ‘Seth Freeman’ who claimed to be a wealthy American businessman.”
He says “Freeman” promised his client marriage and that he would relocate to South Africa and came for a “visit” earlier this year.
“She says he told her he got mugged in Cape Town and lost his wallet and bank cards and that he was stranded,” says Alexander.
“She sent him the money for his accommodation and other things because she felt guilty, he had come all this way to see her and look what happened.”
He says his client paid a total of R791 000 into a bank account, which actually belonged to Tshefu.
“He [Mr. Jackson] uses the bank accounts of locals. I have another local woman who says R250 000 was paid into her bank account over the weekend. He is also linked to another case where he was paid R600 000.
It is difficult to trace him because there are many transactions and he uses different bank accounts not registered under his name.”