Metro confirms pensioners were scammed, another victim speaks out

The pensioners were told the inverter would reduce their municipal account and that they shouldn’t open the box as someone else would come and install it.

Following an article in the Advertiser dated October 6, Special box to save electricity all a hoax, the Ekurhuleni metro has confirmed that the pensioners from Impala Park were indeed scammed and has urged them to open a case of fraud with the police.

Hennie and Hannie McAlpine paid R5 000 cash to a man posing as a metro employee for a box device (AC inverter) that would supposedly decrease their monthly water and electricity account from R3 000 to R1 250.

After the story appeared in the Advertiser, another pensioner, from Parkrand, who wishes to remain anonymous, came forward and said that the same tactic was used on her in November last year; however, she handed over R30 000 for the bogus money-saving device.

Her description of the man who brought her the box and who she paid the money to matches that of the McAlpine’s.

This pensioner, who did report the matter to the police, said: “It was a ‘decent-looking’ Indian man who delivered the device. If I saw him again, I would recognise him.

“He had all information pertaining to my personal information, my property and water and electricity account on file,” she said.

“I suspect that this is an inside job and that he is receiving information from an Ekurhuleni employee.”

She said she’s also aware of others who were scammed by the same people.

Ekurhuleni metro spokesperson Themba Gadebe warned: “There are no ‘secret’ boxes or devices that miraculously save electricity. Only physical devices, such as a solar geyser, LED lights and energy-efficient appliances, are known to save power and residents should buy these at retailers.”

According to the McAlpines, this is the modus operandi of the scamsters:

• The couple received a call from a man posing as an Ekurhuleni metro employee. He explained that the metro wanted to install a device on their property which would bring down the amount payable on their municipal account. This was specifically to help pensioners who receive expensive municipal bills.

• On the same day, another man delivered a box with the device inside.

• Hennie McAlpine filled in a form and paid the man the R5 000 in cash.

• The McAlpines were told that someone would come and install the device.

• They never heard from anyone at the metro again.

Hannie McAlpine described the man who delivered the box as follows:

– A relatively young Indian man in his late 20s.

– He is tall and slender, with shortly cut hair and a clean-shaven face.

– He was neatly dressed in casual clothing and wore a wedding band.

– He has a scar in his hairline, just above his left temple.

– He spoke good English.

– There was no vehicle in sight when he arrived at the house.

“He made a good impression, so we did not suspect foul play,” Hannie said.

Ischke de Jager

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