Two arrested in housing scams

2016-01-12 06:00

Residents are urged to be aware of housing scams.

A former ward councillor is the second person to be arrested in connection with alleged housing scams in less than one month.

Irma Jackson was arrested on 22 December. She appeared in the Mitchell’s Plain Magistrates’ Court in December and was released on R1000 bail.

Jackson stands accused of defrauding residents who claim to have been duped into paying money to receive subsidised houses.

Her next court appearance is set to take place on 19 February.

This is the second unrelated arrest that has been made in less than a month relating to alleged housing scams.

Mitchell’s Plain police confirmed a case has been opened for further investigation, but they could not disclose any more due to the “sensitivity of the investigation”.

Prey on vulnerable“In general, the City continually warns our residents to beware of housing scammers who sadly prey on the most vulnerable and desperate residents,” says Benedicta van Minnen, mayoral committee member for human settlements.

“The City emphasises that, should a person qualify for a subsidy, they must not pay any money to anyone to be placed on the housing database or to receive a subsidised property, which includes a serviced site. All costs are carried by the City.”

Van Minnen says the City also investigates incidents where City-owned units have been “sold”.

“Such ‘buyers’ would not be able to register the properties in their names and would be out of pocket with no legal deed to the property,” she says.

In the first arrest on 2 December, a 32-year-old man was arrested by metro police officers on charges of fraud for allegedly running a scam in the Mitchell’s Plain area.

It is alleged that he claimed to be a City official in order to scam people into paying him for housing opportunities.

He had conned R8800 from three individuals in recent months, in return for prospective housing opportunities.

The suspect gave them notifications of their new addresses on fake City of Cape Town letterheads, along with keys.

Richard Bosman, the City’s executive director for safety and security, was tipped off by a councillor that the suspect was being held at a hotel in the city centre by his victims.

Metro police officers then arrested the suspect.

The case has been transferred to the police in Kuilsriver, where the original crime is alleged to have taken place.

“The police investigation will uncover the scale of the alleged fraud and I appeal to anyone who might have been duped in a similar manner to come forward. We cannot allow members of the public to be swindled in this manner, as alleged in this case, and so the more people who can come forward, the stronger the case will be.

“I applaud the quick reaction of our safety and security officials in helping to secure the arrest. Hopefully, the allegations will be thoroughly tested and justice will be served,” said JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, in a statement.

What to look out for in a potential scam

. A con artist asks legitimate beneficiaries to pay money to be placed on the housing database

. A scammer asks legitimate beneficiaries to pay money to receive a subsidised housing unit or serviced site

. A scammer “sells” City-owned units, houses or serviced sites

. A scammer “sells” an RDP house. The sale or rental of RDP houses within the first few years following the acquisition of the property by beneficiaries, is restricted.

Where this is done knowingly and with intent, it is fraud. Potential buyers must make sure that the property can legally be sold.

V Anyone who suspects he has been involved in a housing scam is urged to call the City’s fraud hotline on 0800 323130 and report it at his nearest police station.

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