By Yolandé Stander
A GROUP of Nelson Mandela Bay businessmen who claim they have been fleeced out of hundreds of thousands of rands by a man purporting to be a dealer in everything from animal skins to used cars are hoping police can help them recoup their losses and that the man will be charged.
The alleged victims claim the man’s method is to lure people in with initially successful business deals and then disappear with their money.
One of the alleged victims, business owner Tony Webb, said he was approached by the man in September last year.
“He seemed like a normal entrepreneurial kind of guy and offered his services to repair a torn trampoline base and canvas side to my boma as he owns an upholstery business in Port Elizabeth,” Webb said.
“While the goods were being repaired, he phoned and mentioned that because of his contacts in the fabric and leather trade, he also traded offshore with kudu and zebra skins and didn’t always have enough cash to purchase large quantities.
Webb said he agreed and the deal was successful. “After that there were a few successful deals.” He added he never suspected he would later be “done in” as the man had acted in an exemplary manner.
“After a while he phoned, very excited, to say he had found three vehicles for sale at a school and needed help to purchase them to fix up and sell again. I invested R20000. To date I have not received a cent in return.
“It was purely by chance that I met up with a friend who had spoken to someone whose uncle had also had dealings with the same person.
“I set up a meeting with him [the other complainant] to discuss a way forward and the possibilities of a lawful reprisal. The man had started their relationship in exactly the same manner. This poor person has a daughter who is handicapped and at the Aurora care centre. He is struggling to find the means to keep her there.”
Webb has now turned to the police commercial crimes unit in Port Elizabeth.
The unit’s Colonel André Horak confirmed that he had received complaints about the alleged fraudster.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the print edition of Weekend Post on Saturday March 24, 2012.