Conman swindles couple

2015-01-05 00:00

A SMOOTH-TALKING, yoghurt-swilling conman fleeced Bella & Boo’s owners out of R400 with a tall tale peppered with grandiose promises.

The shopkeepers were reeled in by a man claiming to be a cardiologist who went as far as inviting them to what promised to be a lavish New Year’s eve party at his home.

Now the hunt is on for “Dr Moodley”, who preyed on the largesse of Hillcrest couple Merle and Wayne Hodson, spinning a yarn that his elderly wife had forgotten her purse and needed to pay for groceries.

Merle Hodson said she and her husband had popped into their shop at the Parklane Centre on Chief Albert Luthuli Street on Wednesday.

Shortly after they arrived at the natural frozen yoghurt outlet, she noticed a man in his 50s milling around the shop.

“He came into the shop and struck up a conversation with my husband. He told us he was a cardiologist practising on Loop Street and at Ethekwini Heart Hospital in Durban,” she said. “He even invited us to his New Year’s eve party at his home.”

The man then told them that he was waiting for his wife who was shopping downstairs.

“He took a phone call and we overheard him tell someone that he didn’t have his wallet with him and told the caller to call their son,” explained Hodson.

She said Wayne realised something was amiss and politely ushered the man out of the shop. “I think my husband had realised that this guy was a conman,” said Hodson.

However, the man returned after Wayne went to the Spar.

“He popped in and said he was terribly sorry, could I lend him R400; his wife was upset with him because he didn’t have money on him,” she said.

Hodson said the man had clearly conned other people because his “act was so well-rehearsed, you couldn’t fault him”.

Her husband returned to the shop and was shocked to hear that she had given him money.

“We called the cell number that he gave us and a woman answered and said, ‘Let me guess, a Dr Moodley or Dr Naidoo said he was a cardiologist’,” said a shocked Hodson, who is now appealing to the public to assist her to find him.

“He messed with the wrong person. I am going to expose him and what he is doing. We have CCTV footage and we are going to find this guy. I am sure he has conned more people in Pietermaritzburg.”

Having been taken for a ride, Hodson said she learnt her lesson not to trust strangers.

“It’s difficult not to be kind to people, but note to self, you can’t be kind to people anymore,” she said, adding that they would lay charges.

• If you recognise the man’s modus operandi, please e-mail the writer at

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