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Pretoria - A Johannesburg woman is singing the blues after being conned out of almost R80 000 by her boyfriend in a black money scam.
The black money scam, or the “wash wash scam”, happens when fraudsters obtain money from their victims by persuading them that piles of banknote-sized paper in a trunk or safe is really money that has been dyed black to avoid detection by customs officials.
The victim is then persuaded to pay for a chemical to wash the “money”, with promises that he or she will share in the spoils.
Lerato* was dating Gareth*, who misrepresented himself as a doctor from Ivory Coast, but who has been confirmed to be from Nigeria.
Gareth introduced Lerato to his brother and owner of the house he stayed in. The brother was identified only as Kingsley.
Last month Lerato was shown a suitcase full of black pieces of paper the size of banknotes. A man came to the house and used a chemical to wash some of the paper, which appeared to become banknotes.
The men said the money amounted to R25-million, but they needed more chemicals to wash the rest of the papers.
Lerato was promised a portion of the R7m due to her boyfriend if she helped raise money, and gave R10 200. However, she was not paid.
“They said the chemical was supposed to be refrigerated for 48 hours before use, but the guy who did the cleaning did not follow instructions. So, the money I contributed only managed to clean R4 900,” said Lerato.
She was then asked to give towards the R150 000 needed for more chemicals; she raised R60 000.
Her share still did not come.
Two more men, who said they worked for a company that cleaned banknotes in Sandton, joined the party and said they would clean the money without charge.
However, they demanded 30 percent of the R25m to ensure a receipt could be obtained from the Swiss company, from where the money was obtained.
“I began to get worried and went back to the men to tell them I was no longer interested and wanted my money back,” said Lerato.
Gareth said he would try to raise R20 000, but had since switched off all his phones.
Two women have since contacted Lerato and told her Gareth had scammed them in the same way.
* Not their real names.