Young smooth talker with multiple identities sought for numerous crimes throughout SA
An alleged con artist who has run circles around the police in the Eastern Cape has been unmasked as an accomplished, slick trickster with multiple identities and links to a slew of victims across South Africa.
Be it under the name Kenton Nark, Mark Michaels or Marcus Smith, it has emerged that the alleged conman is sought for crimes countrywide.
Weekend Post can reveal that his real name is in fact Mukhtaar Achmat.
Former friends who grew up with the 29-year-old in the small town of Fleurhof, near Roodepoort in Gauteng, described him as someone who could sell ice to an Eskimo in winter.
From fancy vehicles to cellphones, clothing and electronics, Achmat has allegedly fleeced at least 50 people in Mossel Bay, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and East London.
His alleged crimes exceed well over R1-million in a period spanning four years.
In Port Elizabeth alone he faces four counts of fraud, all allegedly committed this year.
Achmat’s first run-in with the law dates back 11 years, when he was just 18 years old and he was accused of fraud in Florida.
His rap sheet before court lists 12 cases, including one conviction for pointing a firearm in Mossel Bay in February 2014. He is also wanted by the police in George and Garsfontein in Johannesburg.
Achmat escaped custody from the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on March 3, as he was due to appear on fraud charges.
He was rearrested in East London on Saturday last week, but once again made a daring bid to escape.
After crashing the police car he allegedly stole, Achmat was rearrested and held in custody.
With at least 11 known identities, three separate addresses and at least two different identity numbers to work from, the prosecution had a difficult time trying to convince the East London Magistrate’s Court that it was in the interest of justice to keep Achmat behind bars.
They eventually succeeded.
The chairman of the Crime Prevention Forum in Florida, who would only give his first name, Riaz, said he had arrested Achmat three times in a period of a year.
Florida borders on Fleurhof, a town comprising just eight blocks, and one so small everyone knows everyone.
“Each time I arrested him he was just released by the police again,” Riaz said.
He said his first run-in with Achmat had been in 2015, when he was reported for allegedly stealing a motorbike from a local resident.
Achmat’s father, Ali, is an imaan at the Fleurhof mosque.
“I have visited his parents numerous times to try and track him down but they always chase me away or say they don’t know where he is,” Riaz said.
He said Achmat always followed the same modus operandi by purchasing items – usually flashy cars – via Gumtree.
He would then use a website called SMSS, used to create SMSes.
In this way Achmat was able to allegedly falsify notification messages from the victim’s relevant bank, assuring them that the money had been transferred into their account.
On March 8, just five days after his escape from PE, Achmat used one of his alleged victim’s phones to “transfer” R160 000 into his bank account. He wanted to buy a BMW 125i advertised on Gumtree.
But, in using the man’s phone, he forgot to log out of the SMSS website.
Weekend Post has a lengthy printout of 99 transactions done via this site.
East London pharmacist Gideon van der Watt, 54, whose details were obtained through the site, said he had sold Achmat an iPhone 7 worth R10 000 on March 7.
This time he gave his name as Kent Kirsten.
“I advertised the phone on Gumtree. He then contacted me and we arranged to meet at the pharmacy,” said Van der Watt.
He said he had received an SMS notification, purportedly from Standard Bank, informing him that the money was in his account.
He realised he had been scammed two days later, when the money was still not reflecting in his account.
Van der Watt said he had subsequently come across newspaper articles about Achmat and realised he was not the only victim.
He said Achmat had done the EFT transaction from a MacBook Pro.
Earlier that same day, another East London man, who asked not to be named because Achmat had been to his house in Gonubie and he feared his possible accomplices, said he had sold him the Macbook Pro for R26 000.
Achmat told him his name was Kenton and was visiting from the Western Cape for work purposes.
“He said his laptop was stolen and that he urgently needed to complete a design project.”
He told the man that he worked for KNK Constructions. The money was to be paid from the firm’s Standard Bank business account.
The man then contacted Standard Bank 48 hours later, when the money was still not reflecting, only to be informed that KNK did not have an account with them.
On March 6, Achmat allegedly tried to pull a similar stunt at Oasis Outfitters in Vincent, but the transaction was abandoned when the shop owner became suspicious.
A former friend from Fleurhof, who grew up in the same street as Achmat, confirmed his identity.
He said Achmat had attended Florida Park High School.
“I am by no means surprised to read about what he has been up to,” the former friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
“He could sell ice to an Eskimo in winter, he is that believable.”
The man said Achmat’s parents had kicked him out of their home at a young age because of a suspected drug addiction.
“He came back here a few years ago, but left again and we haven’t seen him since.”
National Prosecuting Authority provincial spokesman Tsepo Ndwalaza said they were following up on leads that Achmat had used a combination of at least 11 different aliases. He was wanted for fraud in Johannesburg Central, Florida, Garsfontein, Langlaagte, Port Elizabeth and East London, and for robbery in Lenasia.