Cape Town - A Hout Bay woman stands accused of fraud of around R4 millionafter she allegedly faked her child’s kidnapping to collect “ransom” money from her friends. This is according to the list of charges in the case against Kateryna Karpovska.
Karpovska, 39, originally from the Ukraine, is on trial in the Bellville Commercial Crimes Court on charges of fraud, money laundering and contravening the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Act.
One of the counts relates to Karpovska defrauding seven American friends.
Around 11pm on September 2, 2009 Karpovska allegedly e-mailed one of her friends saying that her son had been kidnapped and the ransom demanded was US$2million (R16 million).
She claimed that she had raised most of the money but still needed $143 000.
“As proof of the kidnapping, the accused said she appointed private investigators from an agency called Cheaters to handle negotiations and she supplied an invoice confirming this,” the charge sheet reads.
Her friends agreed to help her and supplied the money. About R1m was paid into Karpovska’s bank account and she then told them that her son was returned to her.
“The alleged kidnapping [of her son] was never reported or investigated by Cheaters,” the charge sheet reads.
Karpovska claimed she was handcuffed and held against her will by her ex-boyfriend and two other complainants, and that he demanded she get the money one way or the other.
She admits that she lied about her son’s kidnapping but says she was forced to do so.
The State alleges that Karpovska acted as a financial adviser and that she used money given to her as investments, for personal benefit.
It is further alleged that Karpovska worked at the Ukrainian Joint-Stock Commercial Bank Imexbank (JSCB Imexbank) which registered an SA office on March 1, 2007.
“The accused was employed by the JSCB Imexbank as their chief representative officer with the South African Reserve Bank,” the charge sheet reads.
Apparently, in March 2008, JSCB Imexbank closed its representative office in SA and stopped dealings with Karpovska.
But the SA Reserve Bank had by the end of 2009 not received notification from the bank to deregister its SA office.
The State alleges Karpovska was still registered as the chief representative officer at that time and that in three counts of fraud Karpovska allegedly acted as a financial consultant and deposited investments into her personal account.
Karpovska, however, denies the allegations, saying that the first complainant was her ex-boyfriend and that after their relationship soured, he opened a case.
Between May 2008 and May 2009 R4m was allegedly paid into Karpovska’s Absa bank account “for her personal benefit”.
But Karpovska says that she and her ex-boyfriend used the money together.
Money owed to the two other complainants was repaid.
Karpovska has pleaded not guilty. She is expected to testify at the start of the State’s case on October 9.