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By Bennitt Bartl

News Editor

Pretoria ‘domestic worker death’ scammers re-emerge

A number of Pretoria residents have recently fallen victim to the alleged scam.

Centurion police have warned residents against the so-called ‘domestic worker death’ scam this week, Centurion Rekord reports.

The warning was prompted after at least two residents in Pretoria recently fell victim to this scam.

READ MORE: Here’s what you should pay your domestic worker this year

In one incident, a resident from Eldoraigne said he and his wife were contacted by a man who told them their domestic worker had died in a car accident.

They were contacted on a Tuesday – the only day of the week when their domestic worker is not at work.

“The man was crying, and he was very emotional,” said the resident.

The man claimed to be the domestic worker’s brother. He requested that R3 000 be transferred via eWallet so that funeral arrangements could be made.

The resident and his wife were very upset as their domestic worker had been with them for years.

“The caller was so convincing, and we were about to make the transfer when I became suspicious.”

The resident had read the eWallet number back incorrectly, and the caller became very aggressive.

“I also remembered articles that had been published in [Centurion] Rekord,” said the resident.

“We immediately ended the call and called our domestic worker, who told us that she was fine.”

A second victim was not so lucky.

Des van Heerden, who stays in Akasia, was also caught off guard when she was called on Sunday by a tearful man.

“He told me that my domestic worker had died in an accident on her way to church,” said Van Heerden.

“She has been working for me for 15 years, and the news really upset me.”

The caller was just as emotional and provided the same eWallet number, into which Van Heerden immediately transferred R2 000.

It was only the following day, when the domestic worker arrived for work at Van Heerden’s sister’s house, that she realised she had been scammed.

In both cases, the caller claimed to be a family member and promised to pay the money back as soon as the domestic worker’s funeral policy pays out.

In January, Centurion Rekord reported about the same scam resurfacing in Centurion.

At the time, woman posted on the community Facebook page, People Who Live in Centurion, that “her domestic worker’s family” had called her with the “bad news that she had been killed in a car accident”.

The distressed employer said all her calls to the domestic worker were diverted to voicemail.

Other Facebook users warned the woman that it was most likely a scam and that the domestic worker is probably unharmed.

In February last year, Centurion Rekord also reported how a scammer spinning a tale about a dead domestic worker swindled a woman and her family out of R3 000.

The Lyttelton woman, who asked not to be named, said she received a call in the morning from a man who told her her domestic worker had been killed in a car crash. The woman said the caller said he needed R3 000 to tow the car away.

Later, as the woman was telling a neighbour of the death, the domestic worker arrived.

Police spokesperson Captain Dave Miller said it was important that residents verify claims that are made.

“Ensure that you have the contact details of family members of your domestic worker and verify any claims before paying any money,” said Miller.

He also advised that in both cases it is essential that cases be reported so that these crimes can be brought to the attention of police.

“There is no such thing as a trivial offence,” Miller said.

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