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By Trevor Stevens


Scammers don’t give discounts

In less than five minutes, three women had mugged an elderly woman on International Women’s Day, and taken her wedding ring of 50 years.

It’s the phone call you always dread receiving from a loved one… “I’ve just been scammed, they’ve taken everything. Help.”

The everything was jewellery – a wedding ring, some other rings, a pendant with necklace, a bracelet and my late father’s service to the company watch – cash, a cellphone and a purse with all cards, smart ID and driver’s licence.

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The family member was my mom, caught by fraudsters while at the shops on returning from a long-time friend’s funeral.

The crime scene was a popular supermarket on Hendrik Potgieter Road that she seldom visits but was conveniently on the way home.

It was more of a mugging, than a scam. Or rather… she was tricked.

A person dressed smartly in what resembled the supermarket’s clothes had promised a further 5% discount for pensioners if she went with her and applied.

Mistakes were made. Dear mom is the first to admit it, but by the time she had realised that she shouldn’t have followed “this discount giver”, it was too late.

Her bag, her jewellery – all holding a sentimental spot in her heart – all gone.

Two more accomplices had joined the heist and they were off before my mom could finally find her voice and shout for help.

In less than five minutes, three women had mugged an elderly woman on International Women’s Day, and taken a wedding ring she had worn for 50 years – the last 14 months without the person that gave it to her.

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In the days that followed as we looked to make sure no money had been taken from her accounts, and started the arduous task of replacing cards – even those loyalty cards that were at the core of the mugging – my mom begged me to write something to warn others to not fall into the same trap.

“At least they won’t be as silly as me,” she said. “Or will at least be on guard when a stranger starts talking to them.”

The truth is there are so many scams, muggings and tricks playing out on a daily basis, so it makes it feel pretty pointless. It feels as if everyone is out to get you if you drop your guard.

Hope in humanity quickly fades.

Rudyard Kipling said: “I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble.”

Perhaps correctly, a grumpy family member puts a spin on the saying and says: “I always prefer to believe the worst of everybody; it saves so much time.”

The past week has seen me more resigned to the family member’s take on humanity… and that’s just sad.

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Crime robbery scam theft Women's Day