Durban - Thandolwethu Shelembe, a first-year Damelin student in Durban, will not trust well-dressed young men driving flashy cars in the future.
Police have warned Durban students to be more vigilant and not be duped by a group of men offering to wine and dine them, only to rob them of their valuables.
The men, who are suspected of being part of a syndicate, drive top-of-the-range cars, offering dates to unsuspecting female students. The men, said Shelembe, give the impression that they are high flyers.
“They are neatly dressed, well spoken and drive some of the fanciest cars.”
She said she was at a bus stop waiting for a taxi when a man stopped to offer her a lift. Shelembe refused the offer. “He asked for my number and I reluctantly gave it to him,” she recalled.
The man started calling and texting her and the student soon started trusting him. “He offered to take me out on a date during the day and I agreed because I knew he wouldn’t do anything to me in broad daylight and I had chosen the place where we would eat”.
After picking her up from her communal house, the man asked if they could quickly grab a snack from a fast-food outlet before heading out to the restaurant.
“He went in to order something and came back to the car. About five minutes later, he said his order was ready and asked me to quickly get it for him.”
Without suspecting anything, the student jumped out of the car, leaving her bag with all her belongings inside. She only realised she had been scammed when the cashier told her that the man had not ordered anything, and instead bought a cool drink.
“I ran back to the car and he was nowhere to be seen.”
“I fortunately didn’t have much cash in my bag, but he made off with my cellphone, student card and other belongings.”
Shelembe is one of several first-year students who have been targeted by the men. Two students were seen crying hysterically in Anton Lembede (Smith) Street last week, after they fell prey to the same scam.
The men, who were also driving the latest car, drove off with the women’s bags which contained their tuition fees.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane advised students to not speak to strangers, let alone jump into their cars.
The warning comes two months after police arrested a 26-year-old man who ran a registration scam outside Durban University of Technology. He was charged with fraud after police found him in possession of fraudulent documents he used to carry out the scam.
According to Zwane, three men allegedly lured new students to “register” for enrolment at DUT with them to avoid long queues.
They directed students to pay the registration fees to their accomplice in a vehicle parked nearby. The men then issued the students with documents and receipts with theDUT letterheads and logos. They asked students to pay a deposit of R5 000.
Last month, a warning was posted on the Brad Nathanson Investigations Facebook page warning people in the Hillcrest area of another scam involving female students. Only in this case, they were the baddies.
“An innocent-looking girl, around 14 years old, in school uniform, hitch-hikes on the roadside looking very distressed. She says her name is Luyanda, said the person who put up the post.
“Once in my car, Luyanda claimed to have a 6-year-old sister and that her mom had passed away. The tears flowed freely and I felt she was telling the truth at that point.
“She asked if I could give her a bit of money towards bus tickets – R350 each – for her and her sister to get to a family member in Bulwer.
”Once at the playschool, we called the child welfare and ‘little Luyanda’ didn’t seem perturbed at all.” But Child Welfare called back in 10 minutes stating the address and numbers given were fictitious.
“She had caught another gullible person, but thankfully, hadn’t got all the cash that she was asking for.”