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Cops bust 'family run syndicate' involved in R7m fraud

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Published Mar 9, 2020

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Durban - POLICE have arrested two cousins from the Camperdown area, and cracked down on an alleged family run fraud syndicate believed to have defrauded unsuspecting people in the province of more than R 7million.

The cousins, aged 38 and 39, were expected to appear in the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Monday on fraud and money laundering charges.

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A total of 13 fraud cases with a similar modus operandi were reported from February 2017 to August 2019, where victims complained that they were lured to invest in bogus property and imported-goods businesses. They had apparently paid money to the cousins’ syndicate hoping for big returns but after investing they discovered it was a scam.

Police said cases were reported at police stations in Pietermaritzburg, Inchanga, Camperdown, Hammarsdale, Durban North, Westville, Pinetown, Chatsworth and Hillcrest.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the reported cases from all the stations were centralised for the purposes of an effective investigation.

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Naicker said the investigation, led by a team of seasoned detectives based at the Pietermaritzburg police station, made a breakthrough in linking the suspects. He said all the cases were investigated as one case docket, which led the police to a farm near Camperdown.

“The team worked tirelessly in trying to put all the pieces together from the evidence at their disposal, which resulted in the arrest of the suspects. Many hours as well as resources were invested in trying to bring down this syndicate.”

Naicker said the complainants alleged that they were called by a person who lured them into investing in a business. “The caller would inform the complainant of a container with goods coming from overseas and the victim was asked to invest in the business. Once the complainant showed interest in the possible business venture they would then be asked to deposit money into a bank account.

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“After the money had been deposited, the promised investment opportunity would not materialise,” he said.

Naicker said the other complainants reported that the person who had called them informed them that they were selling bank-repossessed properties. If the victim exhibited interest in the property, they would also be requested to deposit money, only to realise they had been scammed.

“Once the investigation phase was completed and the suspects’ location identified, an operation was planned for the purposes of arresting the perpetrators,” said Naicker.

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He said when they arrived at the farm, police officers were greeted by at least four pit bull dogs, which had to be restrained before police could access the house. The two cousins were then arrested and charged.

Naicker said over R100 000 in cash was found in the house. The cousins could not provide police with a reasonable account of how the money was accrued, as they were unemployed.

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