Plett man allegedly cons matric revellers out of thousands

2016-12-05 12:02

Plettenberg Bay - When Adele Niemann got a call from her son Selwyn from George Airport saying nobody had arrived to take him and seven friends to Plettenberg Bay, she knew they had been conned.

“I got that sinking feeling,” she told Netwerk24.

Earlier in the year, Niemann booked accommodation for the boys’ matric holiday through a company called Ethos Holidays after seeing an ad on Gumtree. She paid R28 000 for seven days. 

When Selwyn tried contacting the man with whom she had made the booking, his phone went to voicemail and his company’s website had been taken down.

The boys made alternative plans to get to Plettenberg Bay. When they got to the house they had apparently rented, people were already staying there.

“They had proof that they booked,” said Emus Erasmus, another boy in the group. “That’s when we started stressing. 

“Jis, it was bad. My whole vibe was gone. You look forward to having a quick shower and then getting into the swing of things and then you don’t even have a place to stay,” he said. 


The group of matrics who got conned. (Nadine Theron, Netwerk24)

Niemann had been in regular telephonic and e-mail contact with the man. In May, her sister made sure the address they had been given was legitimate.

He had a bank account in the company’s name and she had spoken to him two days before the trip. 

Bruce Richardson, chair of the Plettenberg Bay crime prevention association, said up to 100 matrics had been conned by a man advertising accommodation.  

“There are children who save all year for a Plett matric holiday,” said Niemann.

“Fortunately, we managed to get somewhere else for them to stay, but we had to cough up again.” 

A Plettenberg Bay resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the man and his family had stayed in the town and she knew them well. 

“I’m shocked. I knew nothing about this side of the person's character."

False address

The man had a real estate company. When the boys tried to track him down, the address which he had given Niemann as his home address, was that of a school. 

“I was really bummed, the first few days were rough,” said Ruan Rabie, one of Selwyn’s friends.

“However, the last few days have been the best times of my life.”

The boys had seen others milling about in the streets with their suitcases. They had also been conned. 

Anthony Jacobs, one of the owners and organisers of the Plett Rage end-of-year matric party, said the festival organisers had stepped in to help those who had been conned. They erected 60 tents for them in the Rage village.

Plettenberg Bay police spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie said two cases of fraud had been opened. He said police expected other victims to come forward.

“The suspect is in his early 50s and offered accommodation online. He did double bookings without his clients being aware of it.”

He had not been arrested yet.

 

Read more on:    port elizabeth  |  plett rage  |  crime

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