People trusted you and you stole from them, magistrate tells fraudster sentenced to 35 years
Durban - A “smooth-talking” scam artist, who fed his taste for the finer things in life with money he conned out of people, was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment this week.
After pleading guilty to seven counts of fraud, Sugan Naicker, 37, had the temerity to suggest to Durban Regional court Magistrate Fariedha Mohamed the offer of a R100 000 fine, in exchange for a lesser sentence.
But Mohamed was not moved.
She dismissed Naicker’s suggestion and sentenced him to five years direct imprisonment for each of the seven counts of fraud he committed.
Mohamed questioned how he would raise R100 000 considering he had been awaiting trial for more than 18 months, and that his only form of support presently was his elderly mother who lived off her state pension.
“Where is the money going to come from?” Mohamed fired back at Sanjeev Juglall, Naicker’s Legal Aid attorney, who said his client’s family would assist in raising the R100 000.
“I don’t see any other family in court, only his mother is present each time. She is living on a pension. Why should she be deprived of her pension or home because of his actions?” asked Mohamed.
Naicker, a Chatsworth resident, had been trailed by Warrant Officer Runganathan Pillay and his team of detectives from SAPS Chatsworth since 2016. Having collaborated with colleagues on the South Coast of KZN, Captain Adam Draai tracked Naicker in Ramsgate and arrested him last year.
But before that, he enjoyed the high life; partying, driving flashy cars, frequenting casinos and wearing designer clothes. He earned much of his ill-gotten gains by masquerading as a successful cellular phone wholesaler or by claiming to own a lucrative business that bought and sold repossessed cars.
Those who were enticed into making investments never got the returns Naicker promised, while some victims are presently repaying loans they had taken to afford their capital outlay.
All of Naicker’s victims lived in Chatsworth.
Count one relates to how, between November 2014 and March 2015, Naicker induced Sheldon Naidoo into believing that he bought cellular phones at a reduced rate and made 100% profit on their resale. Naidoo trusted Naicker, especially since his son had gone to school with him. But Naidoo has since learnt a hard lesson from the failed R174 600 investment.
Trishen Reddy fell for the same scam Naicker sold to Naidoo. To convince Reddy further, Naidoo threw in that he was the regional sales manager of I-Phone. Reddy invested R67 200 in February 2016.
Naicker told Sugandren Thambiran that he bought and sold repossessed cars to dealerships and that the return on profit was 100%. Thambiran invested R64 000.
Runganayagie Naidoo, the breadwinner in her family, underwent debt review after her failed dealings with Naicker. Naicker knew Naidoo well; they attended the same church and she cared for his father when he was admitted at the hospital where she worked.
Naidoo noticed that Naicker lived flamboyantly and flashed pictures of his party lifestyle, while she “suffered” financially as a single parent.
Naidoo paid R72 000 for a VW Polo in December 2016 after believing Naicker’s pitch about repossessed cars and that he was a WesBank employee, but she did not get the car.
Indrin Naidoo invested R80 000 into Naicker’s make-believe car sales business in January 2017, which also hit a dead-end.
Similarly, Anderson Naicker invested R10 000 in May 2016 with no dividends either.
Having lost her job, Celine Peters paid R86 000 from her retrenchment payout for a Golf GTi Naicker offered in January 2018, but he never honoured his promise.
After he was introduced to Peters by her sister, a former work colleague, Naicker nagged Peters until she agreed to buy the car. Being ripped off traumatised Peters.
To each count, Naicker admitted, via Juglall, that he made false representations to all his victims, knowing that he would not deliver on the respective promises he made, and agreed his actions were “unlawful and wrongful”.
State prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay reiterated that Naicker had committed serious crimes, his motive was “greed” and he “preyed on unsuspecting victims”, who were known to him.
Pillay said Naicker was a “con artist” and “smooth-talker” who only pleaded guilty because of the overwhelming evidence against him.
Magistrate Mohamed said Naicker “did not learn his lesson” in spite of his two previous convictions (theft and fraud). “People trusted you and you stole from them.”
Mohamed said Naicker was not a candidate for a reduced sentence because he would continue scamming people once released and his R100 000 offer was a “drop in the ocean” to what he owed victims.