Behind Bars

The Insurance Crime Bureau has recently been informed by several member companies, recovery agents and tracking companies of a scam where criminals syndicates are impersonating SAPS officials claiming the false recovery of stolen vehicles.

Following the actual theft of their vehicles, complainants are contacted by individuals claiming to be members of the South African Police Services. This “police officer” will inform the owner or complainant of the “recovery” of the stolen vehicle in question, usually geographically far away from where the case has been reported. 

Garth de Klerk, CEO of The Insurance Crime Bureau said, “if the vehicle was reported at Sinoville police station the criminals will inform the complainant that the vehicle was recovered in Rustenburg, sometimes even as far as the Botswana or Zimbabwe border line.”
The criminal will have all of the vehicle owner’s personal details, as well as the details of the stolen vehicle on hand. They will then confirm that the vehicle is at a remote location and will request a fee from the owner in order to move it to the nearest police impound for collection, or in some cases delivery directly back to the owner. 

“The explanation by the criminal will be that this fee is for a break down service to transport the vehicle back to the owner, or to the nearest pound, or that the fee will be for him to drive the vehicle back to the owner instead of booking it into the closest pound. They will reason that once the vehicle is booked into a police impound the owner will find it difficult to get the vehicle released, but by paying the agreed fee he will bring the vehicle to the owner instead, hence saving him a lot of trouble.” says Mr de Klerk

The fee requested by the criminal impersonating a member of SAPS, may vary from R 1000 to R 3000 and the request will be to transfer the agreed fee to either a specific account or via e wallet, PayPal, or other money transfer options. 

The general public is not familiar with police procedure, and may not be aware that the South African Police Service will never ask a fee following the recovery of a stolen vehicle. 

Some of the individuals involved in this scam have been identified, and are in fact operating from within Prison. The criminals involved in this scam are obtaining the personal information and details of the owners of stolen motor vehicles by randomly phoning police stations, and impersonating senior officers attached to Police Head Office. 

Mr de Klerk says that “the information received from within our industry regarding this scam is continuously being updated and forwarded to the South African Police Service, who have established a task team to address this situation.”