Durban - A financial director of a company thought “it will never happen to me” when he accepted a sweet deal offered for his high-end vehicle from a used car salesman with a dubious reputation.
Ronald Tamboer got “scammed” by the salesman and gave up all hope of recovering the balance of R520 000 from the sale of his BMW X6 in 2010.
But the wheels of justice finally turned last week for Tamboer and three others who were all taken on similar lengthy rides of unfilled promises over deals they struck with Christopher Frolich, 63.
Frolich was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, on condition he paid the four complainants in the matter collective compensation of R780 000.
Magistrate Anand Maharaj, who presided over the matter at the Durban Regional Court, approved that compensation be paid over 60 months.
Maharaj convicted Frolich on four counts of fraud after he duped clients into accepting deals and didn’t deliver on the agreed terms.
He was arrested in 2018 by members of KwaZulu-Natal’s Provincial Investigative Unit. After numerous delays, including Frolich changing his legal representatives several times, his trial began in March.
Sentencing was put on hold for about three months due to Frolich “evading” the inevitable and blamed his subsequent non-attendance at court on an eye operation and fearful of contracting the coronavirus.
On September 14, a warrant for his arrest was issued after the doctor who performed the procedure testified that Frolich was fit for court. He handed himself in on August 23.
State prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay asked that he receive direct imprisonment for his crimes.
However, three of the four complainants suggested in their respective victim impact statements that he be given the opportunity to pay back the money, and prison a last resort.
Maharaj reluctantly complied with the request and said Frolich ought to be imprisoned for his transgressions, and failure to honour the payment plan would result in imprisonment.
When Frolich’s attorney Devan Moodley said he was willing to repay his dues in instalments, it gave Tamboer renewed hope.
Tamboer said he had dealings with Frolich before. “I bought small cars from him for my children and it went smoothly. I had no reason to believe I would be duped.”
But ahead of the BMW X6 deal, Tamboer said he was “warned” and “heard stories about Frolich’s modus operandi”.
“I had an offer of R580 000 from a BMW dealership but Frolich offered me R620 000 and I agreed.”
Tamboer received a R100 000 deposit payment.
“I was going to Kruger Park for a holiday. I gave Frolich the keys and said he could hand it to the buyer once the money is paid. I never saw the car again.”
All Tamboer got was excuses until Frolich owned-up that he used the money to pay his own debt.
“The day we spoke, he was crying and said he was sorry, but my blood was boiling. I was not interested in tears, I said you need to pay me. But it never happened.”
The other complainants were Andre Cumming, who was owed R75 000 for his VW Caravelle sold by Frolich in 2013. Anders Nielson and Christopher O’ Neill were due R195 000 for their Volvo CX 90 he sold in 2013.
Mark Brugge responded to a Gumtree advert in January 2013, placed by Frolich, for the Volvo, and paid a R30000 deposit. Frolich pocketed the money even though the car had already been sold to another buyer.