Be wary of ‘money scams’

2017-11-08 06:01

WITH the festive season fast approaching and many receiving bonuses or stokvel payouts, Pietermaritzburg residents have been warned to be wary of various scams that could result in them becoming the victim of money theft or belongings.

The police said the perpetrators carry out elaborate modus operandi.

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Captain Khosi Khonjelwayo said one scam, known as the “money drop scam”, entails a gang of criminals targeting someone who has just drawn money from a bank, following the person until they see someone “accidentally” dropping money in a plastic bank bag.

She said the unsuspecting victim would then be approached by another gang member, who convinces them to pick up the money bag and go to a secluded part of town where it can be shared equally between the two.

“The victim then follows the person and once in a secluded place they would count the money to share.

“However, while counting, a vehicle, occupied by other criminals drives up to the two and tells them they are police.

“They would then do a body search of the ‘counters’ before telling them to get into the vehicle, which is then driven to an area outside town where the victim is robbed of their valuables,” Khonjelwayo said.

She said what the victim doesn’t know is that the money is counterfeit and the person who dropped the money and all involved are gang members.

“We receive reports of this type of scam almost every day. There are about 25 gangs that run this scam in the Pietermaritzburg CBD,” Khonjelwayo said.

Another scam, according to Khonjelwayo, involves criminals acting as employees in a shop in the CBD.

The “employees” - criminals - outside the shop promise pedestrians discount or half prices inside the shop.

“The victims are then told to go into the shop and look at what they are interested in and then return to tell them which items they want, but only on condition they leave their belongings, such as handbags, with the person outside, but when the victim returns the criminals would have made off with their belongings,” Khonjelwayo said.

She said, however, police visibility will be increased in the CBD over the festive season.

In the Plessislaer policing area ATM skimming devices are rife with bank customers’ details copied by them.

This is according to Plessislaer SAPS spokesperson, Captain Musa Ntombela who said criminals target ATM users, skim their bank card and use their bank details to withdraw money.

“The police advise the public to refrain from asking strangers to assist them at an ATM,” Ntombela said.

He said stokvel members should use alternative means of paying out money at year-end either by paying members while at the bank or depositing members’ payouts directly into their bank account.

Khonjelwayo and Ntombela said the public must avoid carrying large sums of money.

THE KZN SAPS MEDIA CENTRE ISSUED THE FOLLOWING TIPS:

• Alternate the days and times on which you deposit cash;

• Don’t make cash deposits;

• Never make your bank visits public, even to people close to you;

• Don’t display the money you are depositing while in a bank queue;

• Avoid carrying money bags, briefcases or displaying your deposit receipt book;

• Use a branch near you to ensure your banking pattern is not easily recognisable or detected;

• If the amount you regularly deposit increases as your business grows, rather use a cash management company;

• Refrain from paying wages in full view of the public, rather use a “wage” account that can be opened at the bank;

• Refrain from driving to the bank in a company branded vehicle on a typical pay day; and

• Consider using electronic funds transfer (EFT) to pay wages into your employee’s bank account.

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