While motorists are often on high alert for crimes such as hijackings or smash-and-grabs, an expert is now warning South Africans to look out for a new scam targeting motorists at filling stations – dubbed the “school girl” scam.
The scam has been flagged by Richard Brussow – the chief instructor at the National Hijack Prevention Academy – who has 25 years of experience in the SAPS, primarily specialising in vehicle hijacking syndicates, and an additional 12 years in this crime in the private sector.
Brussow cautioned that there was a notable trend of male motorists being targetted at filling stations by an organised routine involving young girls to take advantage of the new gender-based violence act to their advantage.
The modus operandi is as follows:
A motorist filling up or parked at a petrol station gets approached by a schoolgirl between 13 and 17 years old wearing a school uniform.
She then asks the motorist if she can use their cellphone to call her mother because she’s run out of airtime.
“The main objective is to climb into your vehicle. As soon as that girl is inside the car waiting to use your phone, a supposed metro police officer knocks on your window – asking what’s going on. This is when the school girls will shout and accuse the driver of abduction and attempted rape,” he said.
Brussow noted that under the new gender-based violence or domestic violence act, this is an immediate arrest.
“I’ve dealt with cases where the motorist has been placed in handcuffs and berated for the situation they find themselves in,” he said.
Brussow then said the “police officer” goes to speak to the girl to find out what happened before coming back and saying, “It’s your lucky day. If you pay her R3,000, she will not carry on with the case against you”.
Brussow added that, in some cases, it’s not just R3,000 once-off.
“They take your details and phone you periodically, telling you that you must pay for the girl not to press charges against you.
“Be very, very careful here. If you get approached by a schoolgirl at a petrol station, do not let her in your vehicle under any circumstances,” warned Brussow. “Lock your doors and don’t engage with anyone that’s not an employee of the filling station.”