Pensioner power scam

2016-06-28 06:00
The heater that is not a meter. This is the device that was left at the home of a Claremont resident in a scam operation in the area.

The heater that is not a meter. This is the device that was left at the home of a Claremont resident in a scam operation in the area.

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Pensioners are being warned to be aware of criminals targeting them in a scam involving discounts on power saving devices.

In Claremont, a pensioner who did not want to be named was conned out of a considerable amount of money by a slick conman.

She explains that she was called by a man claiming that he was from the municipality who told her that she might qualify for a rebate on electricity costs.

“He was very convincing when he explained the details but added that I would have to pay for a new meter to be installed,” she says.

“He confirmed that I was 76-years-old and said a consultant would call on me. He knew a lot about me and my banking arrangements which all helped to reassure me that he was official.

“A few days later the consultant, a young Indian man, called on me and explained at great length all the advantages I would get.

“He filled in lots of paperwork and made lots of calls on his cellphone, to find out what discount I was entitled to, and I foolishly made an electronic funds transfer to a Capitec Bank account for over R13 500.

“He left a large box with the “new meter” and said my copy of the paperwork should be placed in this box as the people installing the meter would need to see it.”

To add insult to injury the conman did not stop at getting the money transfer from the victim.

“While he was putting this box in my spare room, he asked me for a glass of water which I fetched,” she continues.

“Only after he had gone, with a photocopy of my ID and a further R400 in cash, did I open the box to find that my copy had been removed and so I had no record of the transaction.

“All it contained was a water heating device and I immediately knew that this was a scam. I immediately contacted my bank and with the co-operation of Capitec, the payment was frozen. I also reported the incident to the police.

“It could have been much worse and I just want to warn other people out there to be careful of similar scams.”

Mayoral committee member for utility services, Ernest Sonnenberg, has responded and urged people to be aware of being approached on behalf of the municipality.

“We can assure the public that the situation described by the resident does not conform with our processes. While the City is currently rolling out a meter replacement programme, the planned replacements are free. Each replacement has a notification number on our internal systems which the City call centre can verify should a resident enquire about it. In addition, we also do targeted marketing and mailbox drops of any planned work to be carried out in an area.”

Any member of the public can verify whether visitors to their home are in fact employed by the City, by:
. Phoning the call centre on 0860 103 089 to confirm whether work is being carried out in their area.
. Informing the official that they will allow them entry only once the call centre has verified their identity.
. Residents can also ask for a letter of appointment outlining the purpose of the project on a City of Cape Town letterhead, signed by a City official with both office and cellular telephone numbers on the letterhead.

“Residents should please inform the police and the City in the event that they are approached by potential criminals,” concludes Sonnenberg.

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