Another year, and in the past 12 months the criminal mind has demonstrated yet again the lengths it will go to in conning their fellow citizens out of their hard-earned cash. TOM NEVIN issues his annual warning.
Some of the creativity employed by the devious mind is breathtaking, and one can but wonder what developments to aid the human cause such brain-power could achieve if it was put to good use. But those are pie in the sky thoughts; the crooked intellect will always be on the lookout for a fast buck, and we victims must protect ourselves as best we can. In the interests of foiling the conman we offer the following information in the hope that to be forewarned is to be forearmed.
BEWARE THE MAIL PIRATES
Africans with offshore banking accounts are losing millions to 'mail pirates who intercept letters and fraudulently re-route money into their own bank accounts. One South African client lost 300,000 Canadian dollars and another some [pounds sterling]5,000.
According to one postal official, mail is being intercepted by "a very small number of staff" operating together at hubs, mail centres and other premises where mail is handled.
Postal employees who work for sophisticated syndicates intercept mail that requests transfer of funds. They then forge a new letter, but change the requested destination of the funds to an account in such countries as Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Dubai or Hong Kong and, in some cases, Botswana and Zimbabwe. South Africa's post offices have now adopted a hard line with would-be crooks in system, underscored by their slogan "Open the Mail, Go to Jail".
THE CHARLATAN WHO EXPLOITS THE DESPERATE
Now consider the activities of cruel Hulda Regehr Clark, a charlatan claiming to have a five-day cancer cure and other devices to cure serious illnesses. Her bizarre medical apparatus and literature are being hawked in certain stores in some African countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
The 71-year-old, who apparently resides in Mexico, markets such gadgets as The Syncrometer and The Zapper. The Syncrometer is claimed to identify diseased organs and toxic substances by noting if the device makes various sounds when 'test substances' are put on a plate. Her Zapper is a low-voltage device that supposedly kills parasites, bacteria and viruses with electrical energy, but is harmless to human tissue. Medical experts have lambasted her claims as valueless. Clark also markets concoctions and treatments to desperate sufferers, promising they will 'kill' the disease within five days to two weeks.
FREEING THE FREE SCAM
Deception and dishonesty for self-gain has even reached into the Sudanese slave trade. Allegations are filtering out of that impoverished and war-torn country of an ingenious scam that took advantage of foreign kind-heartedness. The scam, that has stretched over seven years...