Lone image key in search for tanzanite scam 'kingpin'

2015-10-05 15:52
A CCTV image of "Katonga" after a meeting in the lead up to the sale of fake tanzanite stones. (Supplied)

A CCTV image of "Katonga" after a meeting in the lead up to the sale of fake tanzanite stones. (Supplied)

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Durban - A single image of a man known as “Katonga” - thought to be at the centre of a tanzanite fraud ring - is the sole clue leading investigators on their hunt for the group.

The crime ring, which passes off coloured glass as uncut tanzanite gems, may be linked to a string of fraud cases stretching more than 10 years.

The image, captured by closed-circuit televisions (CCTV), shows two men walking down a hospital corridor after meeting a Richards Bay businessman.

The two are alleged to have orchestrated the deal in which the businessman was fleeced of R700 000.

Private investigator Sean Peirce said one of his clients had fallen prey to the alleged fraudsters and was duped out of most of his savings.

"He got handled; it was too good to be true. They are very good at what they do and know how to manipulate the system," he said.

He described how the syndicate consisted of three to four people and all had different roles.

"They get your attention and tell you they have these tanzanite stones. They take you to see a jeweller who 'tests' them and says they are legit and values them at a huge price above what they are paying."

Peirce said the meeting, captured by a host of cameras at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, was one in the lead up to the actual “exchange”.

“According to my client they used the meeting to discuss the price of the stones and their value,” he said.

Read more on:    durban  |  fraud

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