Johannesburg - The nicely dressed couple came with an offer of quick money.
The offer was an investment. For R300 000, the newly-retired pensioner would receive R80 000 in profit in just three months.
It would be enough for him to finally finish building his retirement home.
But it was not to be; the 67-year-old instead lost his life’s savings after becoming the mark of a sophisticated gang that has so far netted hundreds of thousands of rand in a crime spree that has targeted pensioners across Cullinan, Boksburg and Soshanguve.
Now private investigators are on the hunt for the con artists and are hoping an identikit compiled of the two will provide a much needed break in the case.
The gang used their typical modus operandi when they targeted the 67-year-old pensioner from Cullinan, Gauteng. Like many other victims, he is reluctant to give his name for publication.
On July 18, he received a phone call from someone claiming to be from the Department of Labour. They said they knew he had recently retired and were willing to help him invest his money.
The next day four people arrived at his house. He hadn’t given them his address.
But what put him right at ease was when he looked into the car and noticed another pensioner he knew.
The two elderly men were driven to a restaurant where they were given a meal and an explanation of how the investment would work. Shortly after the meal, the pensioner said he began feeling not well. He felt drunk, even though he hadn’t been drinking.
“I vaguely remember going to the bank and withdrawing money,” he recalled.
He withdrew his entire savings of R301 000, while the other pensioner handed over R394 000.
Both men were then taken to a cheap hotel where they were told to sleep. Later they were woken up and driven to a taxi rank where they were told to find their way home.
He never heard from the con artists again.
Private investigator Sidwell Nkabinde is working with four other victims of the gang. They have also lost hundreds of thousands of rand; one lost R1 million. He has also heard of other possible victims “out there”.
“They must be working with people on the inside, because they have all their details, like their addresses. And their victims trust them because they have all their details,” said Nkabinde, of Mike Bolhuis Specialised Security Services.
The other victims were also lured into the scam with promises of high returns.
Through working with an artist, the victims have assisted in drawing up two identikits of the gang. Both, says Nkabinde, are believed to be in their thirties, well groomed and dressed.
“It’s a well-oiled machine working both on the inside and outside,” said Bolhuis. “And what people need to remember is that if something is too good to be true, don’t get involved.”
For the Cullinan pensioner, it is the sight of his unfinished house that he can’t afford to finish that has become the forever reminder of his life crippling loss.
If you have any information about the gang or their crimes, contact Sidwell Nkabinde on 062 039 0988 or Mike Bolhuis on 082 447 6116.