In a Weekend Argus exposé last week, Alfredo Alfred, the man behind Beeldskoon, an English language programme based on America’s Next Top Model, was the focus of allegations of fraud.
The programme was supposedly to have aired on SABC 3. A flashy concept document to lure potential investors stated: “Mr Beeldskoon himself, Heinz Winckler, agreed to write, produce and perform our soundtrack for our television production.”
Winckler, whose name was spelt incorrectly in the document, confirmed he had been approached by the producers, but said no agreement had been reached. Several production crew members have complained they weren’t paid.
One of the mentors on the set took a month’s unpaid leave from her full-time job. She said neither a contract nor payment had been forthcoming, so she quit the production two weeks into filming. She did not want to be named.
“His (Alfred’s) favourite quote was, 'the money will only be cleared by tomorrow,'” she said.
This source, along with other Beeldskoon production staff, claimed Alfred had sent them a First National Bank transaction receipt which appeared to show a transfer of R337 000 made from the show’s SMS competition into the Snapshots TV Productions account. FNB has confirmed the document was forged.
Beeldskoon is still being promoted on the Snapshots TV Productions website and Alfred claimed last week the show, which was in “post-production”, would find a broadcast home soon. Alfred has gone to ground in the wake of several hefty unpaid bills totalling hundreds of thousands of rands. Legal action is being pursued by various parties, one of whom has laid a charge of fraud with Cape Town police.
Weekend Argus has not been able to reach Alfred again.
Meghan Prins, a model on the show, said she intended visiting Alfred’s Ottery home with the police to reclaim her Beeldskoon photos. Deslynne Bogenhagen, 20, from Blackheath is also trying to get her photos back. “I feel betrayed,” she said.
Meanwhile other claims of fraud that go back more than a decade have been levelled at Alfred. Weekend Argus tracked down a former Heathfield High School pupil who alleged Alfred, a substitute teacher and soccer coach at the school at the time, had disappeared with money meant for a tour to England about 10 years ago.
“We were going to play against the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal and he also said accommodation with various families has already been set up for us.”
The pupil, who asked to remain anonymous, claimed he and teammates had been left stranded at the airport in Johannesburg after a year of fund-raising efforts,.
Cora-Marie Solomons a 26-year-old model, alleged she had been duped by Alfred on two occasions. The one occasion was in 2010 at a photo shoot for a calendar for a top Cape Town car dealership.
Solomons, who posed alongside a red Mini Cooper, claimed Alfred told her and the other 11 models, they could win the car if they shared pictures of it on social media.
“Whoever gets the most likes and most shares of his (Alfred’s Snapshots) page could win the car, and I won,” Solomons said. “Then he came up with a story that he was hijacked and all the papers that were in his car were stolen, so the Mini was not up for grabs anymore. We must just cut our losses.”
Not long after, Alfred allegedly disappeared. He resurfaced a year later and posted a heartfelt apology on Facebook.
“He wrote sorry that he just disappeared. He was in hospital because he was shot through his head. And then we all accepted his apology.”
Solomons said Alfred then announced a new competition to search for the face of Snapshots.
Her boyfriend at the time did the decor for the shoot but the promised R6 000 payment apparently never materialised. Meanwhile, according to Solomons, she and several others paid monthly contributions towards a R100 00 trip to Zanzibar linked to a new project.
Three days before the Zanzibar adventure, Alfred disappeared again. “His mother said he’d been in accident.”
Solomons said they had been unable to lay a charge at the police station because “we didn’t have proof, no one had a slip. We trusted him so much".
She claimed the monthly contributions towards the Zanzibar trip had been given to Alfred’s wife, Liesl.
“She was his assistant. Whenever there was money to be given, it was given in her hands. She would sit by the kitchen counter and he would be talking to us on the couch and she would say ‘okay you can bring your money now’.”
Weekend Argus tracked down Liesl Alfred.
She denied involvement in Snapshots Productions. But Weekend Argus is in possession of text messages and emails which suggest otherwise.
Many other bold claims were made by the show’s producers Snapshot TV Productions, including that Jeep Century City were “proud sponsors”. Vodacom’s logo was also featured on Snapshot’s website.
Vodacom said it wasn't involved in the show, while Jeep denied it was a sponsor.
An SMS competition in which the winner would drive off in a Jeep Renegade valued at R300 000 has also been exposed as a sham.