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She travelled all the way from Mthatha, in the Eastern Cape, to collect her R57.4 million “UK lottery winnings”.
The 61-year-old pensioner had gone to Kempton Park for a rendezvous with two men who were to hand over the winnings despite the concern of her family that the whole thing was a scam.
The Hawks said on Wednesday they had received a tip-off from a family member that the pensioner was on her way to Joburg on Tuesday night. A team was put together and staked out OR Tambo International Airport, where they’d been informed the woman had been directed to collect a “cheque of her winnings” on Wednesday morning.
“At the last minute, the suspects changed the venue to a nearby luxury hotel and casino in Kempton Park. The pensioner, accompanied by her daughter, met a suspect in a room at the hotel, where they were shown what looked like stacks of cash in a portable safe,” said Hawks spokesman Colonel McIntosh Polela.
“In fact, these were papers neatly covered with R100 notes on each side to look like real cash. In the hotel room, the pensioner was asked for R57 000, which was for “negotiating a discount in tax on her winnings”.
Polela said the R57 000 was demanded by the suspects on top of R8 350 the pensioner had already paid in “insurance, processing, handling and stamp-duty fees”.
“This was paid through banks while the pensioner was still in Mthatha,” he said.
“The Hawks burst into the hotel room and surprised the suspect,” Polela said. The pensioner was not aware that she and the suspects had been followed by the Hawks.
“The Hawks had advised her daughter not to alert her. A second suspect was arrested at the hotel reception,” Polela said.
The two suspects are expected to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. They will face charges of fraud.
“We are still looking for several more suspects. We appeal to other people who have been scammed by suspects who use a luxury hotel and casino to come forward,” Polela said, adding that the two men had been well dressed.
Polela said the pensioner had responded to an SMS that she had won the lottery. “The warning here is: if you haven’t played the lottery, you can’t win it,” he said.