TAKE NOTE: Online scams on the rise

With the festive season fast approaching, police have warned people to be wary of cyber scammers out to make a quick buck.

Umhlali SAPS captain Vinny Pillay said since Ballito is seen as a wealthy and reputable area, it has become a prime spot for online scams which have seen a drastic rise in the last month.

“The internet is a dangerous place and it is not just holiday accommodation scams, there are many reports of people being swindled out of money when they make an online purchase on websites like Gumtree and OLX.”

Pillay said a Cape Town woman had recently deposited R20 000 for a car that was advertised at a fake dealership in Ballito.

 Also read: Two families fall victim to Ballito accommodation scam

“There was an advertisement placed in a newspaper in Cape Town from a dealership called Zeldar Motors DBN on 12 Moffat Drive, Ballito. The woman was told to pay a deposit of R 20 000 but when she travelled to Durban to collect the car, she saw that neither the dealership nor the address existed.”

In another case two weeks ago, a Ballito resident paid R10 000 for porcelain dolls that she saw advertised on OLX, which did not exist.

“We are urging people to ask for the seller’s ID numbers. It would be ideal if people could ask a friend or a family member who lives close by to make sure that everything is legit before they deposit any money.”

Holiday accommodation scams are also popular around this time of the year as visitors seek affordable beach accommodation in the area.

Bloemfontein resident Sarah Termoil said she booked accommodation in Ballito online. After paying a deposit of R6500 for four days, she did not hear from the man whose account she had deposited the money into.

“The advertisement was posted on Gumtree and we wanted to book in advance to avoid being disappointed. I booked a three bedroom house on Compensation Beach Road. I had to pay an additional R500 to bring two of my pets along. I contacted the police when the man did not get back to me and we found out that the address did not exist. I was told the matter is still being investigated but I have no hope of getting my money back.”

Rawson Properties principal, Roelof Faul said there were similar accommodation scams every year.

“People should use reputable agencies when they are making a booking. Agencies run a number of checks to ensure that everything is safe and legal.”

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Erica Abrahams

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