This is a true story of a credit card scam. It happened before the World Cup.
A group of people go for lunch in a restaurant in a popular tourist location in Cape Town. Some are South Africans, some are overseas visitors.
They have an enjoyable lunch, the locals happy and pleased to be showing their visitors around Cape Town, proud of what South Africa has to offer, despite all the negative press overseas.
It’s time to pay up, and one of the visitors generously offers to pay for the lunch. The waiter brings the bill and a credit card is offered. The bill comes to over R300.
The guests leave, and one of the tourists leaves Cape Town, and flies home.
A week later she gets her credit card statement and she checks it, as she had only used her card once while in South Africa, and that was to pay for the meal in the restaurant. There’s the amount, translated into about $42. Not a heck of a lot when you see it in dollars.
But wait up! What’s this other charge? R10,300, at a car accessories shop! Now that’s a wad of money in any currency.
How did this happen? she only used her card once. And following the one use of her card this other charge appears.
She e.mails her friend in Cape Town. She is worried it will happen again, and is angry and perturbed, as this was the South Africa that she had been warned about in the international media and on travel blogs.
Her South African friend is also angry, and embarrassed. She puts fingers to keyboard and fired off an angry
What can I do?
It happens that I know the restaurant owner and I call him and tell him of the incident.
He is very worried, and makes a note of the days and dates and does an investigation.
Everything ties up. The card was used to pay for the meal as claimed.
The waitron who served the table had left without notice a day or two later.
SAPS are called in, and respond immediately.
They look at the evidence and say that there is a case to be answered.
But here’s the sting. They can’t lay charges. The restaurant can’t lay charges either. The tourist must lay them.
To do this she must fly back to South Africa, lay the charges, and also be present to give evidence in court when the case comes to trial. (whenever that might be).
Incredibly, SAPS offer to pay for the flights from the US, for both laying the charges and the trial.
Will she press charges? No, not a chance. Even if her flights are paid for she will not take time out to fly back from the US to do this, not to mention return again in a few months for the trial.
Some sting by our waiter friend. He knew the chances of getting charges laid were quite slim, let alone having them stand up in court. Clever and knowledgeable in a weird way.
So where is he now? Well, he is still in this tourist location. And amazingly, he is still working as a waitron in a restaurant, not far away from the scene of the crime.
The establishment in question has been warned about him, but they have not alerted him as the Police are watching, and waiting.
Lessons to be learned? Yes. Never, never let your credit card out of your sight, not even for a second.
Because that’s all it takes to skim it, and leave you in debt for thousands.
You’ve been warned.