Johannesburg - Internet con artists have latched onto some new opportunities – using Oscar Pistorius’s name to con gullible fans out of money they claim would go towards his legal bills.
The athlete, facing trial for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, is underdoing mental evaluation at Weskoppies in Pretoria.
Internet scammers have taken to Facebook, targeting fans for “financial support”.
“We seek financial support for the trial, debts and pending projects we have at hand. If you are interested in working actively with us in this direction, please do contact: Mrs Victoria Anderson at [email protected],” reads a message on a Facebook profile purported to be that of Carl Pistorius, the athlete’s older brother.
The account, which has left the Pistorius family fuming, sprung up over the past week, said family spokeswoman Anneliese Burgess.
Attempts to contact the purported Mrs Anderson on Tuesday morning were unsuccessful.
Pistorius’s financial woes became apparent when earlier this year he revealed that he was selling his large home to support himself.
“It has become necessary to sell Mr Pistorius’s home in the Silver Woods Country Estate in Pretoria in order for him to raise the necessary funds to cover his increasing legal costs,” his lawyer Brian Webber said at the time.
It was also revealed that Pistorius’s legal team cost tens of thousands of rand a day – as the trial had gone on for more than 30 days – and that the athlete had lost sponsorships from various organisations that supported him.
Now internet phishers have cottoned on to the idea that the Pistorius family needs extra money.
Burgess said people responding to the new Facebook scam were asked to rendezvous in Sunnyside in Pretoria to talk about potential investments. But Burgess warned of going through with such a meeting, which she said was definitely a scam – adding that Carl Pistorius no longer had an active Facebook profile.
“The family has made it clear (in the past) that anyone soliciting money on their behalf are doing so fraudulently. We will, once again, request Facebook to shut this profile down. All the legitimate Pistorius family members’ Facebook pages are either deactivated or set on full privacy settings,” said Burgess.
She said the family were not currently pursuing any criminal charges.
In March, a fake Facebook page called “Oscar Pistorius Official” was soliciting money from users.
The same fraudsters were also using Twitter, claiming that the @OscarHard Truth – one of Pistorius’s official accounts – had been hacked, and were redirecting people to an alternative fraudulent account.
While the “Oscar Pistorius Official” Facebook page was eventually shut down, the fake Carl Pistorius account was still active this morning.
The fake page’s most recent wall post read: “Thank You all for the continued support and words of encouragement during this difficult time. Pray for Oscar.”