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Beware of bogus cops

Residents are urged to stay vigilant as similar cases have been reported in various areas in Durban.

RESIDENTS are warned about fraudsters posing as police officers who target unsuspecting shoppers in shopping malls and supermarkets.

One of the scams that have been going on in the Montclair area is known as the money-drop scam, which entails a gang of criminals targeting someone who has just drawn money from a bank or ATM, following the person until they see someone ‘accidentally’ dropping money which is in a plastic bank bag.

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The unsuspecting victim would then be approached by another gang member, who convinces them to pick up the money bag and go to a secluded part of town where it can be shared equally between the two.

In another disturbing incident of deception, two men impersonating police officers orchestrated a money scam and theft at a local supermarket in Montclair.

According to police sources, the sequence of events unfolded as the victim, having just withdrawn cash and completed her shopping, was approached by a woman inside the store.
“The woman pointed out a man, dressed in all black, who allegedly found money on the floor. Claiming innocence, the man exited the store, followed by the victim and the other woman.

“As they proceeded down Alamein Avenue, the man circled back and began trailing them. Soon after, a silver Hyundai Getz pulled up, and two men posing as detectives emerged, citing a fictional housebreak and insisting on the man’s involvement. Coercing all three individuals into their vehicle, the impostors proceeded to interrogate them, even demanding access to the victim’s belongings and personal information under the guise of an official investigation.

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“Ultimately, the victim and the other two gang members were dropped off near Montclair Recreational Hall, with the false promise of being taken home. It was only upon returning home that the shopper realised her money and Samsung cellphone were missing,” a source said.

Authorities at Montclair Police Station have launched an investigation into the incident, suspecting collusion between the purported money finder, the witness and the fake detectives.

Police appeal to residents to educate and safeguard elderly people against such schemes.

Police spokesperson for eThekwini District Captain Carmen Rhynes said similar cases have been reported previously in Durban areas.

“These scammers have been operating in various areas in Durban, including Durban Central, Montclair, Chatsworth, Umkomaas, Pinetown and Lamontville. If any cash rolled up is found on the ground by someone who asks you if it is yours, tell the person to go to the security of the shop or shopping centre. Don’t go anywhere alone with them even if you are approached by a friendly woman.”

Rhynes also warned bank clients to be aware when withdrawing cash at the ATM.

“These scammers target those that have just withdrawn some money. If a person ever approaches you and identifies themselves as a police officer, ask them to show you their police ID.

Residents must be on high alert and avoid disclosing their personal information to strangers.

“People must not fall for something that looks or sounds too good to be true. Scammers will use these methods to scam you,” Rhynes added.

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