WINDHOEK – The Windhoek City Police warn residents to be aware of scammers targeting unsuspecting members of the public in and around Windhoek through media adverts.
“In the past weeks, the City Police had to deal with several cases of false advertisement also better known as advertisement scams,” said Constable Cillie Auala, of the police public and community relations division. Advertising scams are tantamount to theft under false pretence, which at times involve a culprit placing an advert in a local paper, via Facebook or on radio for a product which does not exist for the purpose of self-enrichment. In recent weeks some of the scammers falsely claimed that they have accommodation for rent and end up defrauding people looking to rent rooms.
Last week, a woman was apprehended for defrauding another woman who was looking for accommodation. The victim posted an advertisement on the social media site Facebook looking for a room to rent. On her post she included her contact number. An active Facebook user, a male who claimed to be a real estate agent wasted no time, and called the woman on the number indicated on her post. He told the woman to go to Ara Bar where he would give her directions to the property in Dorado Park, where there is a room for rent. Upon arrival at the property, the agent told the woman the owner of the house, a lecturer at Unam, was not available, therefore he did not have the key to the room, however she could view the room through the window. Later that day the woman called the agent telling him that she was interested in the room. The agent told her that since he was busy he would send his colleague to bring her the room key. A deposit of N$1 000 was made to the woman who claimed to be a colleague of the male agent. As it turned out, it was just another scam, the key could not open the room, and the owner of the house was not even aware about the fraudulent transaction. Fortunately the police managed to arrest the suspect.
In a similar incident a woman advertised on Omulunga radio that she was looking for employment. A male who claimed to be a recruitment agent called the job seeker saying there was a job opening at a hotel in Windhoek. She boarded a bus to Windhoek all the way from the north to come and apply for the job. When she got to Windhoek, it emerged that there was no such job opening. The City Police got hold of the woman before she could link up with the bogus agent, and are now investigating. “These two incidents should serve as clear wake up call that, one should always avoid going into shady deals with people you hardly know. At this time of the year, many young people, especially students (foreign and national) are coming to Windhoek, some for the purpose of studying while others come in search of employment. Therefore we would like to alert the community not to become victims of these crimes,” Auala said.
“Any person that asks you to pay money in order to secure employment is a crook and people should not fall prey to these types of actions. Never pay money for a scholarship. A legitimate scholarship organization is unlikely to ask for money. If they ask you to pay, then it is probably a scam,” Auala said. “People should be careful and make sure they enter into a contract agreements before paying any deposit for rent and the public is warned to only pay money if the key of the property is handed over and make sure the keys they receive do indeed open the doors. Furthermore, we are urging people to report any suspicious actions to the police,” she added.
By Tunomukwathi Asino