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By Keitumetse Maako


Elderly targeted by ‘scammer’ at Pretoria shopping centre

Elderly people are being warned to be wary of the white male, who is about 40 or 50 years old and is always neatly dressed.

The alleged scammer swindling elderly people out of their money will apparently be arrested “as soon as he enters the centre,” Wonderpark shopping centre management advised.

His looming arrest follows after he was caught on tape swindling 86-year-old Eli de Lange out of R500 last month.

“My husband went to the food chain store to pay our cellphone contract bill, which we are struggling to get out of,” De Lange’s wife, Mari, told Pretoria North Rekord.

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Mari said her husband mentioned their struggle to get out of the contract to the alleged scammer.

“He told my husband he worked for the company so he could give him the money and he could sort out the problem.”

The couple said they learned they were not the only ones who fell victim to the man after speaking with fellow residents at the Eden Retirement Resort.

“Four other people in out retirement resort gave him money,” Mari said.

One of the elderly women apparently paid the scammer R700 after he told her he was going to arrest her son for his outstanding fines.

“He told her he could make the fines disappear,” she said.

Two other residents were apparently swindled out of amounts of R600 and R650 after he misled them into paying him.

Mari said another woman who had since passed away was swindled out of R700 three years ago.

One Eden Retirement Resort resident who requested to remain anonymous said she escaped the man’s trickery simply because she did not have cash on her.

The alleged swindler apparently started the conversation with the 85-year-old woman by telling her he worked with her husband.

“From there we had a chat and he ended up asking about our children,” she said.

She said the man eventually formulated a story about getting building supplies at a discounted price so her son could carry out some work at his residence.

“He even pretended to be on the phone with the person who was arranging the discount.”

The alleged con artist then attempted to swindle money out of the elderly woman, but was disappointed when she said she did not have any cash on her.

“He lost interest immediately,” she said.

Elderly people are being warned to be wary of the white male, who is about 40 or 50 years old and is always neatly dressed.

“He is tall with half-grey hair and a moustache,” his victims said.

The man was also recently spotted at another shopping centre in the north of Pretoria, where he attempted to swindle money from yet another elderly citizen.

Wonderpark shopping centre spokesperson Elizma Mouton confirmed the incident was reported to centre management and footage of the swindling kept.

“The case was opened at the police station by the victim and the police requested the video footage from our security; which was provided,” she said.

Mouton said they would be able to arrest the alleged con artist when he entered the centre, as they now had the case number.

“Our security manager will also discuss this with Pick n Pay to ensure that they are more vigilant,” she said.

The 85-year-old’s daughter, who also requested to remain anonymous, jokingly said perhaps the elderly women needed to be reminded of what they taught their children when they were younger – do not talk to strangers.

Akasia police spokesperson Constable Matsobane Mabusela was yet to get back to Pretoria North Rekord at the time of going to press.

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