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Criminals are working with police to target hijack victims in South Africa

South African motorists who have had their cars stolen are hijacked are now being targeted by scammers looking to capitalise on the person’s misfortune.

According to CrimeWatch’s Yusuf Abramjee, who brought the issue to light on X (formerly Twitter), there has been a notable increase in the number of fraud cases where scammers have used private information to con road users out of thousands of rands following the theft of their cars.

New crime trend to watch out for

The new scam involves criminals obtaining information from insiders in the police force about victims who have had their cars stolen or hijacked, and then using this information to contact the victim, claiming they are an official and that their car has been recovered.

The scammers will then explain that a “fee” must be paid in order to tow the vehicle back from where it was recovered – a sum that can cost the individual R2,000 to R3,000.

The real danger is that these criminals have access to personal information that makes their scam look more legitimate, as they can provide details such as your police case number and the vehicle’s VIN and registration numbers.

“If your vehicle is stolen or hijacked, and you get a call or message from a ‘police officer’ saying the vehicle has been recovered, be very wary,” said Abramjee.

“They will give you a case no, registration, VIN no, etc… and then ask for an e-wallet of R2,000 to R3,000 to get the vehicle back from the border. It’s a scam. Don’t fall victim.”

These scammers try to get this information from various sources, and at one stage, it was noted that these criminals were operating from within prison.

Following Abramjee’s post on X, several users shared their own experiences on the platform, with one noting that they received two different calls within a few hours of opening a vehicle theft case – one from Limpopo and another from Mpumalanga – and that they would need to send money via Shoprite to pay for a tow truck.

Another said that they received a call that their stolen vehicle was located at the Komatipoort border and that they needed R2,000 to bring the car back.

Other posts noted a demand for R3,500 payment into a Capitec account, and there are multiple accounts of vehicles “being discovered” in areas like Mpumalanga or KwaZulu-Natal near the border.

Criminals are getting creative

The vehicle theft scam is the latest in an increasingly long list of out-of-the-box methods being used by criminals to target motorists in South Africa.

In recent months there have been two other scams that have risen in prominence that both occur at petrol stations and involve a distressed woman, with different methods intended for male and female victims.

For female targets, a woman claims that she was just robbed and needs assistance getting home – the aim being to exploit the victim’s sympathy and get into the car – whereupon the vehicle is hijacked once the girl lures them to a different street.

For male motorists, there has been a recent spate of “school girl scams” involving a young girl in a uniform asking to use their phone and sit in the car.

The goal is to exploit new gender-based violence laws that call for the immediate arrest of anyone suspected of attempted rape or kidnapping, as a “police officer” will conveniently show up after a caring motorist agrees to let the school girl get into the vehicle and use their phone.

The girl will then claim she is being abducted, and this leads to a blackmail scam where a payment is needed to “make the problem go away.”

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