Conmen fake maid’s death

2010-10-06 00:00

GENEROSITY has cost a retired Durban woman R18 000 in cash which she paid for a faked death of her domestic worker on September 30.

The domestic worker, Rosemary Shiya (53), is alive. Her 63-year-old employer, who declined to be named, realised this when she had already made two deposits of R5 000 each on the evening of September 30 and a deposit of R8 000 the next morning.

The employer said she received a call in the evening informing about Shiya’s death in a road accident. The conman said he was Shiya’s 31-year-old son Lincoln.

She said she knows Lincoln.

By that time Shiya, who lives with her employer in Westville, had visited her Port Shepstone home.

“The man, whose voice sounded so sincere and similar to that of Lincoln, said the money was for funeral arrangements, he was going to return it on Monday.

“I was caught up in emotions and grief since I have been with Rosemary for more than 30 years. I immediately transferred the money into his bank account,” said the employer. The money was withdrawn from an ATM in Pretoria immediately after the transfer.

She said when the conman phoned about the money she asked about the whereabouts of Shiya’s sister Isabel Dlungwane. The man said she was next to him.

“The woman next to the conman just cried, which convinced me that the situation was genuine,” said the employer.

On Friday she told her gardener about Shiya’s death. The gardener went to tell the tragedy to Shiya’s friend who works next door.

“The friend called Shiya’s cellphone only to talk to her. She came to me screaming ‘Rosemary is alive, Rosemary is alive’ and I thought she had called a wrong number,” she said.

Shiya, who returned to work on Sunday night, said the scam devastated her. She said on September 22 and September 29 someone, who said he was calling from the Department of Labour, asked her about personal details, working conditions and salary.

“I even told this man that I was going home on Thursday (September 30). I believe that this is connected to the scam,” Shiya said.

A number of domestic workers’ employers have been targeted since 2007, and most of them have realised the scam before making the cash transfers.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said police are investigating a case of theft.

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