Latest scam shows we're not even safe inside the bank
A blind man was robbed of R70,000 after being helped by a man pretending to be a bank consultant
When Andrew Sipho Pienaar went to a bank in Balfour Park north of Johannesburg a few weeks ago, a “very helpful” man met him at the door and escorted him in.
Left blind after a bomb explosion in Mozambique while he was in exile, Pienaar and his aide did not think this strange.
But then the “kind stranger” turned out to be nothing but a clever thief, who managed to make off with almost R70,000.
Police are now investigating a case of theft after the Johannesburg resident was left out of pocket – money he needed to go and see a traditional healer in Namibia in the hope of getting better.
The incident happened three weeks ago at the Western Union branch in Balfour Park. Pienaar, a well-known socialite of the 1990s who says he shared tables with the likes of Nelson Mandela and other dignitaries, went to the bank to exchange money for his Namibian trip.A distraught Pienaar said it is clear that the person who made off with his money took advantage of his disability.
“I am not going to give up until I get my money. The person who was with me told me that the person who was given the money is the one who walked us into this branch, the person who claimed to be a consultant.”
He opened a case at Norwood police station.Johannesburg police spokesperson Captain Tintswalo Sibeko said a case of theft is being investigated. “The police can confirm that a case of theft is being investigated by Norwood police and no arrest has been made.”
Pienaar said when they got to the bank, they met this person standing. The person allegedly guided them to their chairs.
“This person claimed to be a consultant working for this branch. He even showed us where to sit,” he said.
Their turn came and they went to the tellers. “We wanted Namibian dollars as we were travelling to that country later in the week. I was going there to consult with a traditional healer to help me with my eyesight,” he said.
Initially, they paid R50,000 via card payment. “The person on the other side of the counter said we must put more money and I had to add a further R20,000. We were later told to take our seats as they were processing the money,” he said.
After about 30 minutes, someone was paid the money and walked out. “The person who walked us into that branch is the one who collected my money and left. I heard that when I asked the person who was doing this transaction.
“I asked how they could hand over the money to a person who did not pay the money initially?”“I paid the money, I made those transfers from my bank card and I am supposed to get the money, no one else.”
He said they chased after the person when they realised what has happened, but he was gone. “We were making a noise inside that branch and these two people came and tried to stop us.”
Western Union branch supervisor Kuben Govender has confirmed to Times Select that they were assisting the police with investigating the matter. “Also, our forensic team is assisting the police with the video footage,” said Govender.
He confirmed they did not have consultants standing outside their branch.
Govender said their clients are protected all the time while they are inside the branch. “In his statement the client said he met with the person outside our branch, not inside. Our team and police are dealing with this matter,” he said.