Crime News

Hawks nab alleged con artists for ancestry scam

PRETORIA, South Africa – Three alleged con artists exploiting people’s traditional beliefs have been arrested by members of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation’s (Hawks) serious commercial crime investigation team in Pretoria, the Hawks in Gauteng said.

The three suspects, aged between 31 and 39, were arrested at Lyttelton in Centurion in Pretoria on Thursday, spokesperson Lt-Col Philani Nkwalase said in a statement.

“The trio allegedly lured unsuspecting victims, preying on their traditional beliefs while syphoning their hard earned money. A 40-year-old contracted government employee responded to the advertisement, seeking financial stability and permanent employment early in August 2020.

“She was allegedly invited for a spiritual cleansing consultation for which she paid R1000. She was later convinced to come back for more cleansing. The victim subsequently withdrew all her savings and parted with approximately R223,000 in cash that was then given to the syndicate with the belief that her ancestors would multiply the money into millions [of] rand,” Nkwalase said.

The woman later realised that she had been conned and reported the matter to the Hawks in Gauteng for investigation. The arrested suspects were expected to appear in the Pretoria Central Magistrates’ Court on Monday to face charges of fraud, Nkwalase said.

The Hawks appealed to the public to exercise vigilance “while practising traditional and spiritual sacraments”, as fraudsters used these to scam unsuspecting victims.

Anyone who may have become a victim of the scam after consulting with the alleged syndicate in Lytteton should contact the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Don Barath on 082-319-9446.

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