“R70m cash” promise no good deed

2015-05-12 06:00

He was almost the prey of a con woman. That is, if he had not been clever enough to read the signs in time.

Fortunately Father Mike Williams and his church did not lose anything in the end.

Williams says he was approached by a money swindler last year and is now still very wary of “good Samaritans”.

The church held a drive last year and received a donation of shoes from an organisation.

“We received odd pairs of shoes from an organisation and were told we could do with it as we please. We then decided to sort through the shoes and make as many pairs as we could,” Williams says.

After sorting through the shoes the church was left with hundreds of odd pairs of shoes with which they did not know what to do.

“We then decided to donate the odd pairs of shoes to amputees. It was then advertised in local newspapers with my contact number because beneficiaries would then collect it at our church,” he explains.

Williams says the good deed was well received and all the shoes were collected in a matter of weeks.

He received a call from a woman during this time that the shoes were being handed out.

“She called me one afternoon and I assumed it was somebody calling me about collecting shoes because of the good reception of the initiative. However, she told me she just saw the advertisement in the paper and wanted to make a donation to the church,” Williams says.

Meet for handoverHe says the woman, known as Carol Cyster, arranged to meet him where she could hand over the money.

“I gave her the church banking details so that she could do the deposit. She told me that the amount was too large to do the deposit and she needed to see me personally for the handover,” Williams continues.

He adds the woman was very forthcoming with information about how she got the money and why the church was the beneficiary.

“After we met she told me that she was caught up in diamond smuggling and was not involved with it anymore. She told me she wanted the money ‘cleansed’ – that is why she decided to donate it to the church, because of the good deed we did with the shoes initiative,” he says.

According to Williams the woman then said she needed to get rid of the money as soon as possible “to leave her old life behind”.

“I met with her one afternoon in a very busy main road and she told me we couldn’t speak there and went to a secluded place. There she told me the money was still at the Reserve Bank and she needed transport to get the money,” Williams says.

He was told that the money was too much to pack in his own bakkie.

“She told me the money was too much and when I asked her how much money she was donating she did not tell me at first. Eventually she told me she wanted to donate R70m. She said the money was stored at the Reserve Bank in Cape Town in cases made up of R200 notes.”

Wouldn’t let upWilliams says Cyster then asked him to pay for a truck to transport the money.

“She said it would cost R5 000 to hire the truck. I told her I do not have that kind of money on me. She then asked for R500 and said I could give the rest to her later.

“I just gave her R50 at the end of the day,” Williams says.

“I just wanted her to leave because I eventually realised that this was a scam artist and she wouldn’t let up until she got money from me,” he says.

Williams says he wants to share the story because people are preyed on too easily.

“Had I been none the wiser I would have lost way more money. People prey especially on people who want to do good for their communities. They are met by opportunistic thieves,” he says.


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