Don’t get sucked into a scam

Allan Radue, Kirstenhof

I am writing this in the hope that it will warn people in our community about a new scam currently being perpetrated.

I received a call on Wednesday last week (July 6) from someone purporting to be the brother of our long time office assistant who has worked at my offices in Bergvliet every Monday and Thursday for a little more than 10 years or so.

He said, in a deeply distressed voice, that our office assistant had passed away very suddenly between 8.30am and 9am from a massive heart attack. He said she had collapsed in her home after very bad chest pains and, by the time the ambulance arrived, she had passed away.

He went on to say that while they have made provision for a dignified funeral, they needed some money to help with the food for the people who would come to the house over the next few days, preceding the funeral, to mourn.

Within moments a lady, also deeply distressed, called me too purporting to be our office assitant’s sister and advised me of her passing.

I offered my condolences and assured her that we would assist in any way possible.

Believing this to be genuine, I was prepared to help out with providing support to the family of someone who had been in our lives for many years.

Arranging to meet this person to provide the support proved a little more difficult. They seemed insistent that they were unable to meet me along the road or anywhere recognisable or safe for me. I suggested many places where, you would think would be easy enough to meet me, including, but not limited to, Pick n Pay Capricorn Park, the police station and the Caltex garage in Military Road etc, all places very close to where our office assistant lived.

I think the end game was the hope that I would be too afraid to go into the informal settlement where they wanted to meet me and would I ask for their banking details so that I could pay it into their account.

In sheer frustration with me for insisting, after about nine phone calls, that I meet him somewhere where I was comfortable to meet them they eventually told me, quite angrily and abruptly, to f-off and disconnected the call.

Surprisingly, the calls then stopped.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at work the next morning and was greeted by our office assistant, very much alive.

It appears they obtain the information from the person in advance by calling them and pretending to be from the Department of Labour or some other place that may require employment information and they ask questions about where you work, on which days, for whom, their contact details, whether they treat you well and have registered with the Department of Labour’s Unemploy-ment Insurance Fund (UIF) etc.

Our employee was very distressed to hear of this scam and asked me to make contact with all her other employers to advise them of this potential threat.

I have reported the matter to Kirstenhof police and provided them with the false name and the mobile number the scamsters used to call me and I asked them to provide these details to Crime Intelligence in the hope that they can perhaps trace the number using the RICA information.

I hope that the Bulletin is able to warn others in the community before too many people are scammed.