Many hit in house scam

2013-11-08 00:00

MANY families in KwaZulu-Natal have been left out of pocket and with their homes demolished, thanks to a convincing alleged scam.

Homes in Howick, Durban and Pietermaritzburg have been demolished by their owners after they paid a company that promised to build them new homes after their unsuspecting customers had paid half the cost of a new house up front.

“I paid R55 000 for a new house. They even came to my home to inspect the land. I was told to demolish my existing three-room house, so they could begin building my new house,” said a 34-year-old victim of the alleged scam, who asked not to be named.

She added that the company was advertising in Durban-based newspapers that they build and sell houses in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Empangeni.

“They have offices here near Parklane Spar in Pietermaritzburg, a main office in Durban and one in Empangeni,” said the woman.

She said she really believed that they were going to build her a new home within a month of her paying them half the total cost of the house. “Everything they were doing was professional as you could find the company on the Internet and their advertised in the papers.”

The woman explained that things changed once she went to their office after paying them the money. “I visited them to see the plan and ask them when they were starting building. I was told that they would let me know. Days later I went back to their offices as my mother and family had asked me what was happening.

“I was told that their laptop with the house plans crashed and they would still come. They said I must not worry. When I went to speak to them the third time, I was greeted by a locked door at their offices,” she said.

She had gone to the company’s Durban offices where the doors were also closed and where she found other victims trying to get their money.

She and her family are now staying in a rondavel that leaks when it rains.

“I thought that by Christmas time we would be in our new house.”

A priest who was also scammed told The Witness that he learned the hard way never to trust anyone. “I was not initially convinced to give them my money. It took me some months before I did. I visited their offices in Pietermaritzburg and Durban, they showed me ways that they would save me time and energy as I am busy man. I also have a private business. I deposited R100 000 for the house they promised to build me in Bulwer,” said the priest, who also asked not to be named.

Other victims in Durban said they were now left homeless.

“They started building and left halfway. I don’t know where to get hold of them,” said one.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane appealed to anyone with any information regarding the whereabouts or identity of those wanted in connection with the alleged scam, to urgently contact the investigating officer Detective Warrant Officer Clive van Wyk of Pietermaritzburg Detective Services at 033 845 2753 or 076 622 6674 or Lieutenant-Colonel Naresh Nandhlal at 079 696 3712 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.

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