Cape Town - In a new modus operandi targeted at fleecing unsuspecting tourists to the Atlantic Seaboard, two suspects were caught on CCTV attempting to scam the visitors by forcing them to tap their credit cards in order to “access” certain roads in Green Point.
The crime, which also took place in Mouille Point two months ago, is the latest trick by conmen in the area, Sea Point City Improvement District chairperson Jacques Weber said.
This comes as ATMs are more heavily guarded than in the past, leading swindlers to instead target tourists walking along public streets.
In the latest incident, caught on camera, the WatchTower Group’s smart detection CCTV system flagged the suspects in Somerset Road last Wednesday, wearing security-branded clothing. They falsely claimed to two tourists that they needed a permit to walk on that road and needed to tap or swipe their credit cards.
Weber, also the director of WatchTower, said their operators recognised the scam and alerted PPA Security.
As PPA officers approached the scene, the suspects fled, and were later spotted again in the CBD.
Police spokesperson Wesley Twigg said last night that the suspects were yet to be arrested.
Weber said over the past 10 to 15 years, suspects targeted ATMS where they would skim cards.
But since security was tightened at these spots, the new modus operandi led criminals to the streets.
“This happened on Main Road. The suspects were wearing security caps and T-shirts, but there is nothing official about it. They tell tourists that they need a permit to walk on certain roads. South Africans will know straight away that it is a scam.
“This is the second incident to take place in recent months.
“An ATM at Sea Point Checkers that was usually targeted in the past received no incidents this festive season.
“Criminals are now targeting foot traffickers,” said Weber.
Green Point Neighbourhood Watch chairperson Peter Flentov said they were growing concerned about conmen.
“Green Point hosts many tourists and visitors who stay in the suburb or who attend one of the many events that occur here.
“Unfortunately, that attracts criminals to the area who prey upon these visitors.
“We urge all hosts to warn their guests to be vigilant and to tell them that they do not need a permit to walk in any public spaces, and to urge them to report all crime to the police.”
Green Point ward councillor Ian McMahon urged hotels and accommodations to educate their guests about scammers.
“These scammers continuously change their MO to fleece unsuspecting tourists.
“Thankfully, the nearby hotels like Holiday Inn Garden Court Vic Junction actually alert guests in their welcome letters and other measures to assist and all the security operators like WatchTower and GPCID.
“Local law enforcement (Tourism Unit) are on high alert to prevent more tourists being targeted,” he said.
Twigg said they were aware of the matter.
“We make an appeal to tourists and local visitors to be aware of who they talk to and not to ask help from strangers. Report any criminal activities to the nearest police station.
“SAPS are also busy with awareness campaigns to caution visitors to be vigilant when they are visiting tourist destinations.”
To report a crime, contact Crime Stop at 08600 10111, or SMS Crime Line at 32211.