Victims robbed of R300 000 in online taxi advert scam
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JOHANNESBURG – Two men looking to buy minibus taxis that were advertised online have been robbed of R300 000 by suspects who are still at large.
One of the men lost R100 000 while the other was robbed of R200 000 at gunpoint on the day he was supposed to be paying for and picking up the vehicle.
The latter had travelled from East London in the Eastern Cape to Wolmaransstad in the North West but he and his brother had guns pointed at them instead and were robbed of the money they had on them.
North West police have since urged people to be careful when they respond to online advertisements, especially for livestock and vehicle sales in the areas of Makwassie, Leeudoringstad, Boskuil and Wolmaransstad.
Colonel Adéle Myburgh said on July 19, a potential client paid R100 000 via bank deposits to buy a minibus taxi that was advertised on social media under the name of an auctioneer.
“On his way to collect his taxi, the seller, who agreed to meet him in Wolmaransstad, switched his phone off and could not be reached,” Myburgh said.
In another incident, she said a victim drove from East London to Wolmaransstad to view a minibus taxi that was advertised online.
On July 15, Myburgh said, the man was taken to a house where he was shown the vehicle and the parties agreed that it would be sold for R160 000.
The transaction was arranged for Thursday, July 29. He went home and returned on that day with his brother.
“The victim, accompanied by his brother, met the seller inside their vehicle on the street in Wolmaransstad.
“Whilst waiting for the vehicle and documentation, four suspects approached them, pointed a firearm at them and robbed them of R200 000 cash.
Myburgh said people must exercise caution when responding to such advertisements and to avoid becoming victims by applying the following prevention tips:
Conduct research from a variety of websites.
· Look at a wide range of vehicles without feeling pressured to buy.
· View feedback from previous buyers.
If you buy a vehicle online, you could be buying from a licensed motor dealer or a private individual.
· Be on the lookout for online scams. Fake advertisements are appearing on genuine car sales websites, classifieds and online auction sites. These scams claim to offer used cars for lower than expected prices, but often the cars do not exist.
Before you strike up a deal you should check the car's identity. Check for the warning signs that the vehicle car might have been stolen:
- There's no vehicle registration document (V5C).
- The V5C has spelling mistakes, alterations or no watermark.
- The name and address on the V5C don't match the seller's. (Ask to see their driving licence, passport or a recent utility bill.)
- The identifying numbers on the car don't match the numbers on the V5C or look like they've been altered
- The seller has no insurance policy for the car.
- Consider a private history check, you will have to pay to get this done but a history, or data check will tell you if the vehicle has outstanding finance on it, been reported stolen, been in a serious accident and has the correct mileage.
- There are various companies that offer this service online including the AA and RAC. Make sure that whatever company you choose take responsibility for the accuracy of information they supply.
· Don’t meet strangers at your home or in strictly residential areas. Instead, meet in a nearby shopping area, a grocery store, fast food restaurant parking lot or at the police station. Make sure the area is busy and filled with lots of people. Daytime is better. If you must meet after dark, make sure the area is well lit and there are lots of people around.
· It’s a good idea to bring a friend, or even two. Let other friends or family know of your plans. Have them check on you at a specific time after the meeting if you don’t call them first.
· Be sure to have your cellphone with you.
· If you are selling/buying something and become suspicious of the buyer/seller— for any reason— don’t let them in your car but leave immediately. For example, don’t be afraid to say: “I’m sorry I wasted your time. Something has come up and I need to leave right now. Again, I’m sorry. Bye.” And leave. Your safety is more important than being polite.
· Do not carry a large amount of cash with you and leave immediately if the advertised product is not at the agreed place.
· If you are robbed, give the suspects the property they demand; your life is more valuable than your property.