Three ‘muthi’ con artists arrested

2011-11-17 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG police have arrested two men and a woman who have conned several people out of a total of R67 000 in scams involving ATMS.

The three were caught on CCTV scamming a woman out of cash at an ATM on Friday.

One of their ploys was to use a substance they claimed was “muthi” to convince their victims to part with their cash.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan said the suspects, who targeted both men and women, were found in possession of R500 in cash.

She explained how the fraudsters went to work. They place a wallet or roll of money on the ground for the target to find after he or she withdraws cash from the ATM. After the target picks up the money he or she is approached by a person suggesting they split the cash. Later the two are confronted by a bogus policeman and a pregnant woman who claims to have been robbed.

The victim is told to put all the cash, including the amount withdrawn from the ATM, into an envelope as “evidence”. He or she is distracted and the bogus police officer hands back an envelope and leaves. The envelope is later found to contain pieces of valueless newspaper.

In another scam the victims are touched with a black substance and approached by a woman who tells them they have “muthi” on them and must withdraw their cash or it will disappear from the bank.

Zithophe Ngcobo of Mbali township, lost R51 000 to the crooks in April. She had just withdrawn R6 000 from a bank in town when a woman pointed out that she had been smeared with a black substance.

“This woman was quick to say the substance was ‘muthi’ meant to steal my money. Everything happened so quickly. The two men pretended to be concerned and they advised me to withdraw all my money from the bank before it could change into paper,” said Ngcobo.

They took her by car to a shopping mall near the N3 where she withdrew R45 000. The woman helped her put it into a huge envelope.

“The woman went to the toilet and that’s when she replaced the money with lotto papers. They told me to take the envelope and open it only once I got home, where I got the shock of my life,” she said.

Jeevan said the same scam was used in Pietermaritzburg to steal a total of R67 000 during January, April and August.

Victims of such scams should call Sergeant Michelle Julius at 033 845 2735 or 084 462 1355.

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