BEWARE of BEN10s
The investigating officer shared that their precinct has been inundated by these cases for years.
They see it all the time. Women left destitute and embarrassed after being fleeced by younger men who are professional scammers.
The latest is the tale of a 33-year-old man who was arrested for defrauding a retired teacher out of R1.7 million of her pension fund this month.
The suspect appeared before the Durban Magistrate Court after his arrest for theft by false pretence, spokesperson for the office of the police provincial commissioner of KwaZulu-Natal, Captain Nqobile Gwala said.
"It is alleged during October and November 2015, the complainant was robbed of her hard-earned pension money with the hope of the money being doubled. The complainant was a teacher when she resigned and was defrauded of her pension to the sum of R1.7 million," Captain Gwala said.
The incident has prompted the police to make a call to other victims who have fallen prey to such crimes to come forward.
Captain Sifiso Gumede, who's been investigating pension fraud cases in the Durban central police station, says their precinct has been inundated by these cases for years.
They are hard to prosecute because of how the crimes are committed. It's a syndicate, he says.
"These are young boys, as young as 24 years old, who commit these crimes," he says.
They start romantic relationships with their targets and convince them to retire and take out their pension money. The victims often don't come forward out of shame.
"These boys target these older working women in their 50s who they guess have had years of service in their jobs. They ask them out and the two begin to date.
"It's not a rushed process, as the relationship can be as long as two years before the suspect convinces the woman to leave her job," Captain Gumede says.
They go all out on these relationships, making the women feel safe and secure. They make promises of a future filled with love and holidays.
"It is the perfect relationship with dinner dates and morning calls, 'uthando oluvutha amalangabe' (a love that's on fire).
"To the extent that even after the suspect has fled with the victim's money, she still needs counselling to get over the relationship," he adds.
The reason these cases have proved fruitless over the years is "because they give them the money voluntarily".
After the suspect convinces his victim to leave her job, he then proceeds to persuade her to start a business or invest the money in something only he can make a transaction on.
"The number of cases we deal with are too many to count, and that's just here in Durban central," he says.
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The recent arrest was due to a sting operation."He is someone who had become popular because of his lavish lifestyle and we've been on his tail for years. But there are many. It is a syndicate of young boys who are unemployed, targeting older women."
Captain Gumede called on people to be wary of being convinced into making investments without proper research. It's important to know everything you're getting into.
"Older women should be more careful about dating these younger boys," he said.