Fake banknotes linked to herbalists’ scam found

Fake banknotes were discovered in the Leeches Bay beach by police yesterday  Picture:SUPPLIED
Fake banknotes were discovered in the Leeches Bay beach by police yesterday

Fake banknotes believed to be part of an elaborate scam by unscrupulous herbalists who dupe government workers into cashing in their pensions were discovered at an East London beach yesterday.

The fake banknotes were discovered by police at Leeches Bay beach in West Bank after they were called in by bathers.

Eastern Cape police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills said a heap of photocopied money bundled into 72 stacks of R100 and R200 notes was found by police patrolling on horses at the beach.

Mills said the money was found inside a bag hidden in the sand dunes. She said the bag was spotted by beachgoers who then alerted the police.

“The counterfeit money was handed in at the East London SAPS. The top few were R100 and R200 notes and the rest were blank papers,” the spokeswoman said.

It was not immediately clear if this was the same money used to dupe an East London woman into selling her house to invest with a fake traditional healer in November.

Police are adamant the money had been used in a scam widely known as the black dollar scam.

A senior police officer close to the discovery said the money was linked to a string of fraud cases the Hawks were investigating in relation to the black dollar scam.

Several residents fell victim to the scam, with the Hawks arresting two Ugandan nationals in September. The pair had allegedly pretended to be traditional healers and duped a teacher into giving them R800 000 under the pretence that the money would be multiplied by her ancestors.

The teacher, 46, is from Dutywa in the Eastern Cape.

In the scam, rogue herbalists approach their victims, particularly government employees with large pensions, and promise them that if they hand over their money, their ancestors will increase or even double their life savings.

The healers trick the victims into making a small investment. They later take their victims to the beach to show them “large sums of money” to encourage them to invest more for large returns.

Once the victims have paid over all their money, the herbalists disappear. Last month, the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) froze the bank account of a herbalist alleged to have conned a pensioner out of R434 500 in November.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Tshepo Ndwalaza said previously the account belonged to an East London herbalist known as “Father Anthony”.

The account had a balance of R411 000, which victim Buyiswa Kakaza, 67, had invested with Father Anthony. Kakaza had raised the money by selling her East London house.

“Ms Kakaza believed if she invested the money into Father Anthony’s purported investment scheme, she would be a millionaire,” Ndwalaza said.

He said the woman met the herbalist through an advertisement placed in a national newspaper.

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