fast little loans
Durban - Fraudsters have already fleeced several visitors out of deposits for holiday accommodation – and the scams are expected to increase after the long weekend.
Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler, speaking on East Coast Radio, said she had already received several calls about the fake letting agents. Often the victims include several families who make plans to spend the holidays together, and make deposits to these crooks for holiday homes.
Sometimes the scamsters dupe several families into paying deposits for the same home over the same letting period, and then disappear.
Umhlanga Tourism chairman Peter Rose said from experience the fraudsters “pick up momentum from December 16”. Early victims this year were the Govender family, who discovered that the address of the fictitious Southbroom self-catering cottage for which they had paid R3 750 was that of a vacant lot.
They figured this out by looking at Google Earth after becoming suspicious.
Pam Govender eventually got through on the phone to someone who called himself Jaco Roets – husband of “Melanie Roets” with whom she and her brother had been dealing. She put it to him that the “cottage” was on a vacant lot and he challenged her, saying: “don’t insult my integrity”.
“He said we should meet, that he would return the money, and then the phone went dead,” said Govender, from Greenwood Park, Durban.
Meanwhile, in the Gordon’s Bay-Strand area of the Western Cape, a real Jaco Roets working in real estate said over the past one and a half months he had received three or four unusual calls. They were from people who, like the Govenders, had got wind of their possibly being ripped off regarding holiday accommodation in Southbroom. “Clearly the people were not happy.”
He said it was not the first time people had stolen his identity to scam money off unsuspecting people seeking real estate deals.
“Once somebody notified me that an ad, which was not mine, had my name on it.”
Govender had split the cost of the deposit with her brother in Johannesburg after he responded to an advertisement posted on Gumtree. He said he had laid a charge with the police in Gauteng.
They have also approached the “Roets’s” service provider, but without success.
“It defeats the purpose of The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication- Related Information Act (Rica),” said Govender.
Rose, meanwhile, is puzzled that scamsters are not traced through their bank accounts, particularly as people had to go through such thorough Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica) processes.
He warned people to be on guard against holiday accommodation advertised at rates “too good to be true” and with low deposits.
Letting agents also said such scams often went unreported.
Asked to comment on the issue, KwaZulu-Natal police said: “We have not received any complaints of that nature.”
Independent on Saturday