Mall scamster strikes again

2015-10-13 06:00

Shoppers are warned to be vigilant as the festive season comes closer. Several more cases have been reported of women who were conned and their belongings stolen.

People’s Post previously reported that the Wynberg police has seen over 10 cases in which women have been conned into “buying clothes” at half price only to have their belongings stolen (“Watch out for ‘friendly shop helper’”, 26 May).

Warrant Officer Silvino Davids, spokesperson of Wynberg police station, says there have been more incidents recently.

“All shoppers – not only women – need to be vigilant at all times, as this could happen to anyone. We urge shoppers to never let their personal items out of their sight,” Davids says.

Several women have been duped into leaving their belongings with strangers under false promises of buying items at several clothing stores at discount prices.

Davids says a group of women have been targeting shoppers in a mall in Wynberg.

“Many of the victims were approached in one specific store in the mall,” he says.

According to the investigating detective the suspect somehow convinces the victim that she is a store employee and can get the victim “whatever they want for half the price”.

“The suspect then tells the victim if they are interested to meet with them outside the mall, where about three to four other ‘interested buyers’ are waiting,” he says.

The con artist explains that they can only go back into the store with one “interested buyer” at a time.

The suspect asks the women gathered to leave all their belongings, including their handbags, cellphones, purses and even their shopping bags, with the other “interested buyers” who are waiting for their turn.

The suspect first takes one of her accomplices back to the store. This woman returns with clothing she says has been purchased from the store.

“This, however, is only a way to make the victim trust that the suspect is the real deal,” he says.

What happens next is that the victim leaves all her belongings, goes back to the clothing store with the suspect and is told to pick out what she wants. She is told to go back outside the mall to where the other “interested buyers” are and wait there.

However, the victim realises as soon as she gets outside the mall to the “waiting area” that the other three or four “interested buyers” are missing – with her belongings.

“This is a well thought out scam and the victims are easily lured into purchasing items at a discount price,” he says.

Davids urges shoppers to be careful and not fall for scams like this one.

“If anyone has any information on the suspects or has been approached in this manner please report it to the police,” he says.

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