Mom fleeced by false get-rich promise

CONNED: Dimakatso Tlholo of Green Village in Soweto was defrauded of R12 000. Pic. Pat Seboko. 22/04/2007. © Sowetan.
CONNED: Dimakatso Tlholo of Green Village in Soweto was defrauded of R12 000. Pic. Pat Seboko. 22/04/2007. © Sowetan.

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

"How gullible can human beings be?" is an easy question to ask.

But then, that would be too easy, especially when someone is hoodwinked by promises of instant wealth by merchants of get-rich-quick professionals.

That's the fate that befell a middle-aged Soweto mother of two who was impoverished by a gang of heartless tricksters in Johannesburg recently.

Dimakatso Tlholo, of Green Village in Soweto, was running errands on a Saturday. She had gone to town to pay her monthly bills and buy her children food and clothes.

She had just withdrawn R4900 from the bank when she saw R50 notes lying on the ground outside. The two sleek women thugs pounced.

Tlholo had heard such tales. But there they stood, surrounding her like bees over a honey comb.

There was a sudden dizzy spell. Her head pounded. She felt light. It was as if she was travelling through time....

Later, she found herself in a public toilet with the two women and three men.

A police badge was flashed before her dreamy eyes.

"They told me to put my cash, bank card and identity document in an envelope," Tlholo said.

Yes, the thugs had found their umpteenth victim, and they were not going to back down on their plan to steal her money.

Tlholo was given the same envelope and warned to open it only when she reached home.

"They told me that when I got home there would be more money in the envelope," she said.

Curious, she couldn't wait. On a taxi ride back home, temptation got the better of her and she opened the envelope.

Neatly folded pieces of paper stared back at her.

Confusion. Anger. A call to action.

Like someone possessed, she abruptly stopped the taxi and hailed another one for a return journey to the city with the express intention of cancelling her bank card. She went to the bank and thought she had managed to do just that.

But a day later, she went to check her account only to discover that her account had been cleaned out.

Not only had she lost the R4900 taken by the thugs, she had also been cleaned out of her remaining R8000 balance.

"How they managed to replace my bank card, increase my R1000 limit and withdraw the rest of the money on the same day baffles me," said Tlholo.

Tlholo is suspicious that the crooks were helped by one of the bank's employees.

The money, said Tlholo, was to further her studies in nursing.

She had lost R12900, a loan taken by her husband to pay for household needs and her studies.

"Now my dream of entering the health profession has been thwarted, and my husband has to pay back the debt," she said.

First National Bank spokesman Xolisa Vapi said the bank had collected all the information and after careful consideration, Tlholo's matter was handed over to their forensic team.

"There are two branches involved here. We need to verify the identity document used and establish why she has not been receiving text messages from the bank," Vapi said.