Date: 20 June 2019 By: Anton van Zyl
The despicable job scammers are at it again, conning unsuspecting and often desperate job seekers out of the little money they have left. The past few weeks, several “new employees” arrived at the Zoutpansberg Private Hospital, hoping to start working as drivers. They quickly learned that they were victims of con artists.
The modus operandi of the scammers seems to be getting more sophisticated. According to Ms Anneke Stroebel, manager at the hospital, they became aware of such a scam on 29 May when a person phoned the personnel manager asking about his “job”. Two weeks later, on 11 June, four people arrived at the hospital, enquiring about their jobs.
The hospital staff had discussions with the people who were scammed, hoping to be able to trace the culprits. The victims were also requested to report the scam to the police.
From the details provided by the victims, the kingpin seems to be a man who goes by the name of Mathivha, who most probably uses a pseudonym. Mathivha apparently phones businesses in town, telling them that he is looking for drivers. He asks the businesses to refer any jobseekers to him. The scammer probably uses this method to avoid direct contact with his victims and to try and add legitimacy to his “advertisement”.
Once contacted by a victim, Mathivha explains that he can secure employment at a Louis Trichardt-based company that needs drivers. He tells the victims that the contract is for five years and he promises a salary of up to R13 000 per month. The job seekers are then requested to buy airtime and send through the pin to Mathivha. The amounts involved are normally between R200 and R300.
Once the airtime is encashed, Mathivha contacts the victims, telling them to pay R3 000 for the uniforms that he must buy. Once again, the money must be transferred via airtime. Mathivha always has a convenient excuse why cash or bank transfers are not acceptable. He then sends the victims a “pin number” for the “gate”, telling them that this will allow them to enter and report for duty.
Of course, when the victims arrive at their new “place of work”, they find out that they have been conned. In this case, staff at the Zoutpansberg Private Hospital had to tell them that their recruitment process does not work this way and that no vacancies exist for drivers.
Ms Stroebel said that the hospital strongly condemned the actions of these con artists. She warned people not to fall prey to such scams and to report the con artists to the police immediately.
The Limpopo Mirror tried to contact the cellphone number used by the con artists (079 925 7553), but the phone immediately went to voicemail.
Makhado SAPS spokesperson Const Irene Radzilane said in response to a query that she was aware of the complaints, but that no record could be found locally of anybody opening a case in this regard. She added, however, that the victim(s) must report to matter to the police in the area where the alleged crime took place, which is at the Waterval police in this case. By the time of our going to press, the Waterval police had yet to confirm if any such cases had been reported to them. In the meantime, it came to light that the scammer, using the same surname but a different number (082 463 1792), tried the same trick at the Elim Hospital. Residents are warned to remain vigilant and not fall for the man's scam.
Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.