Suspect in E1m con syndicate identified
MBABANE – One man who is allegedly part of the crime syndicate that has so far managed to con individuals of close to E1 million has been caught on camera.
The individual has been nabbed by the closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras at the First National Bank (FNB), Mbabane Mall branch.
The suspect had entered the bank with one Mbabane businessman from whom he collected a sum of E16 000 in a deal that was part of the syndicate’s operations.
Police are now in possession of the camera footage and, as confirmed by Deputy Public Relations Officer, Assistant Superintendent, Stephen Dlamini, investigations are underway on the individual’s true identity.
In an interview with the Times Investigations department, the Mbabane businessman who fell victim to the syndicate’s operations, related how the name of royalty made him believe he was entering a legitimate business deal.
The deal has all the elements of the syndicate’s modus operandi as outlined by the police; strange phone call, a business opportunity, a foreign investor, precious stones, dubious police officers and extortion.
The businessman, who is an IT consultant, said he received a call from one person claiming to be royalty and going by the name Prince Dlamini.
This was on February 7, 2012 at around 9:04am.
According to the businessman, the ‘prince’ said he wanted to introduce him to a Mozambican national who was going to open a business in Matsapha and wanted to buy computers from him.
"I don’t know where the so-called ‘prince’ got my number from. I met with the Mozambican guy, identified as Phillip, in Manzini at around 10:40am. We met at The George Hotel and he said we must go to Moneni to pick up his partner and then go to Matsapha for them to show me the factory so I can prepare a quotation," the businessman said.
The businessman said while they sat in his car with the Mozambican man, the latter suddenly slipped a small brown envelope into his (businessman) shirt pocket and said he should give it to the prince.
"Within two seconds, before I could take it (envelope) out, two people claiming to be police officers arrived and handcuffed us, shouting that we were bad guys and they were taking us to the police station," he recounted.
He said the two ‘cops’, who identified themselves as detectives Dlamini and Sukati, searched the Mozam-bican man’s trouser pockets from which they retrieved a plastic bank bag containing a brown substance.
They then took the small brown envelope from the businessman (he had not seen contents of it all along) and found green stones inside.
They told both men that they were under arrest for dealing in precious stones and instructed the businessman to drive to the police station, after un-cuffing him.
However, along the way, next to Manzini Club, the ‘cops’ said they could make a deal with the two to avoid them being jailed.
They told the businessman to pay them a certain amount of money and the case would go away.
The businessman Narrated: "I thought it was best to pay the money because it would be difficult to prove my innocence at the police station. I then agreed to go to my bank in Mbabane and draw money, which we did."
He travelled to Mbabane with one of the ‘cops’ who identified himself as Dlamini, and this is the same person who was caught by the bank cameras.
"I gave him E10 000 from my company account and E6 000 from my personal account and he left," the businessman added.
Syndicate posed as police officers
MBABANE – After having paid E16 000 to the syndicate, the Mbabane businessman kept receiving more calls from the group asking for further payment.
The syndicate, still pretending to be police officers from the Manzini police station, said the businessman should fork out money that would be given to the station commander so that the case would go away completely.
They identified the station commander as a Mamba.
"They kept threatening me with arrest and exposure through the Times Newspaper," the businessman said.
He said after suspecting that he was being conned, he called police Deputy Commissioner Sipho Dlamini to whom he explained everything.
He said that was when he was told of the syndicate’s existence and his matter was then given to a senior detectives to investigate.
However, the calls to the businessman did not stop as they continued and this happened until he decided to phone the Manzini Police Station to speak to the station commander.
He found out that the station commander’s identity and that of the two detectives were non-existent.
The next time he received a call from the phony cops, he told them he would only speak to the station commander and that was the last time he heard from them.
"I categorically state that I have never been involved in any illegal activities ever, nor have I ever been arrested or dealt with the police in any matter. I have been trying to make an honest living here in Swaziland for the past 17 years and it is clear that I was tricked into this mess," the businessman said.
Syndicate now targeting pensioners - police warn
MBABANE – Police Deputy PRO Assistant Superintendent, Stephen Dlamini, has warned that the syndicate now targets even pensioners.
He said the syndicate has all information on individuals who have to receive their massive pension payout and prey on them. "Besides the pensioners, they also target high ranking government officials. In most instances they use the name of royal family members to lure their targets. Many people have been conned by this syndicate.
"People should not enter into business deals with anyone without verifying their legitimacy. The problem is that we warn people about such dealings everyday but they continue with them. This must come to an end," Dlamini advised.
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