Pensioner loses N$50k to scammers

30 July 2021 | Crime

TUYEIMO HAIDULA



OSHAKATI

A 60-year-old retired teacher lost N$50 000 to scammers who pretended to be police officers on Monday at a hardware store in Oshakati.

The man reportedly went shopping for building materials at Build It and was approached by an unknown woman, who identified herself as Martha and claimed to be one of his former learners from Oshakati Secondary School.

Oshana police spokesperson Inspector Thomas Aiyambo said the victim allegedly asked the woman to send him a picture of herself on WhatsApp, but she refused.

Aiyambo said Martha then requested the victim to assist her with transporting bags of cement to Okatana village, about four kilometers outside Oshakati.

When the two reached Okatana, Aiyambo said Martha changed the destination and requested to be dropped off at Amutanga village instead, another four kilometres away, now off-road.

He said the victim refused and started suspecting foul play.

“The victim stopped next to a service station at Okatana and ordered her to offload the cement,” said Aiyambo.

Fake rhino horn

The woman got out of the vehicle, but left her handbag inside the pensioner’s car.

Suddenly, seven men arrived at the service station claiming to be police officers and ordered the victim to get out of the vehicle for them to search it.

Aiyambo said two of the seven scammers were in possession of fake police appointment certificates and fake police reflector jackets.

“They asked the victim whether he was in possession of a gun and he said no. They confirmed this by searching him. At that point, Martha tried to retrieve her handbag from the vehicle, but the men stopped her and searched the bag, where they found a fake rhino horn,” he said.

When the suspects told the pensioner he was under arrest for allegedly transporting a rhino horn, he offered to pay N$50 000 in exchange for his freedom.

“He went to withdraw the money and paid the suspects, who ordered him to drive to the Ompumbu location where they took the money, counted it, changed their clothes and ordered the victim to drive away,” he said.

Don’t offer bribes

Aiyambo warned Oshana residents that criminals mostly use the following roads as escape routes: Adolf–Ongha, Onamutayi-Ongha, Oshakati-Okatana and Ongwediva to nearby villages such as Ekolyanaambo, Oikango, Omahenene-A, Onamutayi, Okaandje and Omhangela.

He added that anyone who falls victim to scammers should not be afraid of being arrested and going to prison as they have not committed crime.

He also urged the public to desist from offering bribe money to fake police officers.

One of the six suspects was arrested at Ongwediva on Tuesday, where he was found extorting another victim at Eenghala village. Aiyambo said a 55-year-old was allegedly threatened by unknown suspects and forced withdraw money.

“The complainant informed his children, who called the police and we responded immediately. The suspects drove away with the taxi they were using as a get-away car, gold in colour with registration number N 17131N D,” he said.

Criminals are targeting pensioners and those about to go on retirement, Aiyambo noted.

The suspect will appear in court this week on a charge of theft under false pretense. Police investigations continue.

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