The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, also known as the Hawks, has issued a warning to South African women to be vigilant amid a “rapid increase of dating scam incidents” in Limpopo province.
The warning came after a 60-year-old Polokwane-based woman was scammed out of more than R800,000 of her pension money.
“According to the victim, who was employed by the Department of Education in Limpopo province as a teacher, randomly met a guy at a shopping complex in Polokwane in the beginning of the year,” said Hawks spokesperson in Limpopo, Lieutenant Colonel Matimba Maluleke.
“The suspect allegedly proposed love to the victim, who was due for retirement at the age of 60 in June this year.”
The teacher top cops that while waiting for her pension to pay out in September, she visited the boyfriend’s rented house in Ivy Park, Polokwane.
“According to the victim, she was taken to one of the rooms in the house by the suspect so that she could be introduced to the ancestors. While inside the room, the victim alleged that she heard a voice coming from nowhere, telling her that she had been suffering for a very long time, but her suffering was over, as there was an amount of R3.8 million waiting for her.”
The woman said the boyfriend kept asking for money “in order to redeem her fortune of R3.8 million”.
The unwitting, yet educated woman paid over R800,000 to the boyfriend, but later started to become suspicious.
“While in her suspicions, she allegedly visited the suspect at his place, but she found that no one was there. When she enquired from the neighbours about the whereabouts of the suspect, they told her that a few days ago, the suspect came with a moving truck, took his stuff, and left,” said Maluleke.
The Hawks said such cases have become frequent.
“Since the cases of fraud and dating scams are continuing to be reported to the Hawks, the potential victims - particularly well-to-do single/widowed women - are advised to be careful of the scammers who would come into their lives in the name of love,” said Maluleke.
According to the Hawks, the scammers target the following categories of single women:
- Women with stable jobs, and the scammers often convince them to resign
- Women who are recently divorced and have acquired some assets, and the scammers convince them to register assets under their names or to sell off the assets
- Women who are in business, and the scammers come up with fake business proposals that need funding
- Women who have inherited considerable wealth
- Women who are about to retire
- Women who are widows
In October, a Ugandan national, Christopher Masereka, also known as Moses Mawaza, was arrested after he allegedly scammed a former teacher and his lover of her pension money.
At the time, IOL reported that Masereka-Mawaza, 50, was remanded in custody when he appeared before the Nelspruit Magistrate’s Court for allegedly scamming the 46-year-old former teacher of the hard-earned pension money she had accumulated over the years of her service.
According to information at police disposal, the duo allegedly committed a mutual relationship in March. Two months down the line, the suspect allegedly deceived his partner and told her that he was in the logistics business.
He allegedly further advised her to resign from work so that after cashing out her pension money, she could pump it into the business, which they would run as partners.
The business venture sounded interesting and promising, and the former teacher fell into the trap, resigning in May.
When her pension savings were paid into her account in August, the love birds decided to withdraw the money (total figure withheld for investigation purposes) over three transactions in one day.
“Information in our records revealed that the former teacher gave all her withdrawals to her partner,” said Mpumalanga provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.