Johannesburg - A Soweto couple has fallen victim to a syndicate targeting people selling goods on online platforms like OLX.
So organised is the syndicate that it sends payment notifications similar to the ones banks do. But unbeknown to 23-year-old * Busi and her boyfriend, the proof of payment text message was bogus - a discovery they made only after they'd delivered the goods to the fraudsters.
The couple had advertised tyres and rims worth R7 000 online.
They got an offer from a Siyabonga Goodenough Gumede, who sent them copies of his ID book, driving licence and a fake proof of payment from Nedbank.
The couple never received the money and Nedbank informed them that the reference number on the proof of payment did not exist.
Realising they had been scammed, Busi and her boyfriend set up a trap. They advertised a laptop on OLX using a different name and cellphone number and waited for Gumede to call.
He did. This after Busi had done some research online and found a page created by someone who had been defrauded in the same way by a Charles Moyana. He had also been sent a fake proof of payment.
The names of other perpetrators were added, but the cellphone numbers and modus operandi were the same.
“When he asked for my account number, I just made up a random number. A few minutes later, I received a proof of payment,” Busi said.
Gumede sent a man called Thabo to pick up the laptop.
But Busi, her boyfriend and brother held him hostage and took him to the police. Scared, Thabo allegedly begged them to release him, telling them he and his fellow Zimbabweans had been defrauding people of cars, motorbikes, cellphones and laptops since 2012.
Their job was to trawl OLX and Gumtree, faking proofs of payment, stealing goods and then disappearing.
The ID books and licences were also not genuine.
But their case of fraud against the man was soon dismissed.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Richard Munyai said the matter was withdrawn due to lack of evidence, something that baffles the couple.
“How can he be released without anyone even speaking to us and finding out what evidence we have?” Busi asked.
According to Munyai, the prosecutor said there was no evidence linking the suspect and no proof of transaction between the complainant and the suspect.
“Hence he did not want to prosecute,” Munyai said.
The news came as a blow to Busi and her boyfriend who believe the justice system freed a man who will continue defrauding people.
“They are not taking this seriously,” she said.
* Not her real name.