Johannesburg - This was the motherlode – a wad of R200 notes lying on the pavement, and a kind, elderly gentleman willing to share it.

It wasn’t all that it appeared to be. The man being offered half the cash was being reeled into a con that almost cost him his life.

He was unaware he had been spotted withdrawing money from a bank in Alberton, and the gang were about to make their move.

What the man also didn’t know was that police had spotted the gang and were about to pounce.

According to a security official, who didn’t want to be identified, the man had entered the bank on Wednesday morning and cashed a R5 375 cheque.

He left the bank. On the corner of Alberton Boulevard and Fore streets, an elderly man drew his attention to a bundle of notes lying on the pavement.

“The older man then asked the victim ‘is this your cash’? When he said ‘no’, he asked him if he wanted to split the cash,” said the official.

This con is known as a Money Bomb. The bundle of cash was nothing more than a R200 note wrapped over a roll of old Zimbabwean dollars, cut to size.

The elderly man then suggested they walk to a secluded spot where they could divide their find.

He was led to a piece of veld, where the rest of the gang appeared, overpowered him and threatened him with a knife.

They took more than R6 000 from him.

“The victim said the elderly man he followed had asked the rest of the group ‘are we going to kill him’,” said the official.

“They said ‘no, let’s just tie him up’. Maybe they meant it, or maybe it was just to scare him.”

The police stopped the robbers just as they got into a red Toyota Camry, arresting four men and one woman.

They are known to police, having been arrested for robberies in Bethal and Secunda in 2011.

Police spokeswoman Captain Doniah Mothutsane said the five were charged with robbery with something other than a firearm.

For the security official, there is a lesson to learn from the incident: “If you happen to see a wad of cash lying on a pavement, don’t pick it up, just run.”

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The Star