Cape Town - Strandfontein residents have described how dog units, unmarked cars and what looked like CIA agents blocked off a section of a street to arrest a US fugitive.
Eyal Dulin, 40, from Georgia in the US, was arrested at a house on Herring Street in April and has been convicted of several counts of fraud, and sentenced to six years in prison.
He was arrested by the US Secret Service with the help of the city’s metro police.
Some neighbours were shocked by his arrest while others only learnt on Monday the man they knew as Isaq (Jewish version of Isaac) had been convicted of fraud in the US.
Dulin and his co-conspirators tried to defraud people by acting as investment advisers. They sent letters inviting people to Atlanta to discuss potential projects and how best to obtain funding for their business ideas.
After identifying and luring potential victims into the scheme, Dulin and his co-conspirators would access investment funds and venture capital through a consortium of private investors. Victims were told they should go to Atlanta to present their business proposals, to receive funding from their consortium. They were required to pay non-refundable advance expenses and fees.
Metro police spokesman Nowellen Petersen said their role in the joint operation with the US authorities was to help secure the perimeters of Dulin’s hideout, and to help with his apprehension and transportation using the K9 unit.
The secret service looks after the financial infrastructure and payment systems of the US, and protects national leaders, visiting heads of state and government and designated sites.
To nab Dulin the US and SA used the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty of 2000, which came into force in June 2001.
The treaty covers organised crime, transnational terrorism and international drug trafficking, among other offenses.
Dulin’s neighbours had varying views of him.
Some were not even aware he had been living in the area. Others described him as a nice guy.
Ian Julius, a panelbeater, said he spoke to Dulin on a few occasions.
“He was very talkative and he always greeted, he was friendly.
“I didn’t know him very well but he asked me to help him with his car at one stage.”
Julius, who lived in the area for five years, said that he only noticed Dulin in the neigbourhood for about three months.
Dulin lived in Herring Street with his girlfriend, who is only identified as Amanda.
She said she had not been expecting any visits from the media and was not willing to talk, but divulged that she and Dulin had dated.
“We were seeing each other – that’s how I knew him. He lived here for two years,” she said.
After a while her son, who is in his early twenties, came out of the house and pleaded with neighbours not to speak to the Cape Argus about the matter.
A neighbour who lived across the road from Dulin and his girlfriend said she wasn’t even aware that a man lived in the house. She had been shocked to hear of his arrest and what he had been involved in.
Farida Appolis said Dulin was a very nice man and that she was oblivious to the charges against him.
“I didn’t speak to him much, but we greeted and he seemed nice. He even offered to help us out after we got robbed – he offered us one of his TVs.”
Shopkeepers on Octopus Street, a few doors from where Dulin lived, were well acquainted with him.
Gail, who owns the shop and refused to give her last name, told the Cape Argus that she “saw right through” Dulin.
“He was a fake businessman and a typical American – he was very obnoxious,” she said. She added that Dulin spoke as if he was a high roller.
“I didn’t believe that he was a high roller, I mean how can you be a high roller and be living in Strandfontein?”
Dulin apparently told Gail, and her partner David, that he was in the country illegally, but she said they were amazed to learn that he was a fugitive.
“He offered to give loans to people, but the way he went about it was strange to me. I worked at a bank before and the way he went about it was just weird and he always received money from the US and it never came directly to him, he had to go pick it up somewhere else,” she said.
The shop owners said they had no idea that he was in so much trouble. They said Dulin had told them that he was being framed.