Beware of bogus car dealers

BE WARNED! There are unscrupulous car dealers who are out to swindle desperate would-be buyers and instalment defaulters who do not want to surrender their vehicles to the banks that had financed them.

BE WARNED! There are unscrupulous car dealers who are out to swindle desperate would-be buyers and instalment defaulters who do not want to surrender their vehicles to the banks that had financed them.

Con artists take a defaulter's vehicle under the guise of giving it to a prospective client who is willing to take over the instalments. After receiving a deposit from the would-be buyer they disappear with the car and the deposit.

Consumer Line alerted consumers to this scam last July after two of our readers complained they had been fleeced off their hard-earned money by a certain Roy Lochner and Tate Magatu after they responded to their "instalment takeover" adverts.

This is how they operate.

They place advertisements in a local newspaper and invite their prey to do business with them.

When the prey calls, they tell them that they deal with cars that are about to be repossessed by banks by helping find clients who will take over the instalments to save the person who cannot afford to pay the embarrassment of the car being repossessed.

The con artists claim they have a legal contract, which is signed by the defaulter and the person taking over the instalments.

They collect vehicles from the defaulters, pay them an amount equal to two instalments and assure them the prospective buyer will pay their monthly instalments until the car is paid up.

The person taking over the car and instalments is made to pay a deposit of two instalments and fax proof of payment. The swindlers then vanish with the cash without delivering the vehicle.

Thabo Moloi and Johannes Moroka are victims of such ticks.

Moloi lost his car and was left indebted to his financier, while Moroka is R12000 poorer - and the conman continues to advertise in TheCitizen newspaper.

Moloi and Moroka were conned by different conmen between September 2009 and January this year.

Moloi claims he was a victim of Thabo Legaraba, owner of LDL Vehicles Services, which he now calls Lisedi Auto. He says his misery started after he lost his employment.

"I could no longer afford to pay my car instalments. One day I spotted an advert in a newspaper about a company that would help me find a person who would take over my instalments and pay all the arrears on the car."

He called the number on the advert and arranged with the agents to find a person who would take over the instalments. Moloi says this was in October.

"Later that day Reuben Seale, one of Thabo's partners, picked up the car saying the person taking over my instalments was rich and would settle my areas of about R9000 at once."

He says they paid the arrears two days later. This was the last time they made any payments.

Moloi says the bank wanted their car from him but that Thabo does not know how to get money from their "rich client".

"Talking to Thato Moletsane, their client, she could not help. She lied and said she had been paying. But when I brought her my bank statement she became abusive."

Moloi says Legaraba had also left his previous business place and now operates from a house in Glenvista.

He claims that the security officers at Legaraba's previous business place told him he was among a whole lot of people who were robbed by these guys.

Moloi also fears that they will damage his car and return it scrapped.

Moroka says he responded to an advertisement in The Citizen in October last year.

The advert read: "Vehicle takeover vehicle wanted, Vehicles available and no ITC checks."

He says he called the number and spoke to a man who introduced himself as Viljoen and told him he had a fleet of cars on stock.

"I chose a BMW, after which he said he needed a deposit of R10000."

Moroka deposited R10000 into Viljoen's Nedank account on December 22. But after faxing proof of payment he could not get hold of Viljoen.

"I went to his bank and after the bank teller had contacted him he sent me an SMS asking for my bank details. But he has not refunded my money."

Marcia Maraka is a victim of a similar scam. Last April she responded to an advert in Sowetan, which was placed by Roy Lochner.

Lochner also needed someone to take over vehicle debt.

Maraka says she was told that she would sign a contract with the person whose car was being repossessed. She says she was given a list of repossessed cars but that the car she wanted was not available and had to be collected at a bank depot in Durban.

"I deposited R20000 but I have never received the car or my money.

"I decided to go to the small claims court but that did not help either."

She says she wants to warn other readers not to fall victim to similar scams.

"I know I made a stupid mistake and I want to expose these people and I want to warn readers about such scams."

Legaraba tells Consumer Line that he was not running a scam He says his client, Moletsane, stopped paying her monthly instalments because Moloi is holding on to the renewed licence disc, making it difficult for Moletsane to drive the car.

He promised to sort out the mess before Friday, but he had not done so by the time we went to print.

On the other hand, a loud Moletsane told Consumer Line she had not skipped a payment.

"What does Moloi hope to achieve by calling Sowetan. Tell that Moletsane I don't owe him a cent and he must sort it out with Legaraba," she said and hung up.

Angela Naidoo of The Citizens advertising department says: "I gave the documents to my manager. Unfortunately we are not allowed to stop the client's adverts, unless we get a ruling from the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). The client has to contact the ASA regarding this matter."

Viljoen denied running a scam. (His name has changed from Ray to Roy) . He promised to check his books to find out what had happened in Moroka's case and report back.