Scammers in South Africa are now using inside information to steal money from victims of a stolen vehicle or hijacking.
This is according to CrimeWatch’s Yusuf Abramjee, who warned South Africans on the popular social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter).
Abramjee highlighted a notable rise in the number of cases where scammers had access to private information – left with the police after a theft or hijacking – and used it to scam the victims out of thousands of rands.
According to Abramjee, the scammer will get the case information and phone the victim, claiming to be an official who has recovered the car; however, a fee must be paid for the vehicle to be towed to your location.
“If your vehicle is stolen or hijacked, and you get a call or message from a ‘police officer’ saying the vehicle has been recovered, be very wary,” he said. “They will give you a case no, registration, VIN no, etc… and then ask for an e-wallet of R2,000 to R3,000 to get the vehicle back from the border. It’s a SCAM. Don’t fall victim,” Abramjee warned.
He noted that these criminals get inside info and try to con victims. “At one stage, these scammers were operating inside prisons,” he added.
Following the post on X, many South Africans voiced their experiences with the same modus operandi. “They told me that the Police truck is not working and it will take time for the vehicle to be towed,” a user commented.
They explained that they opened a case, and a few hours later, they got two calls – from Limpopo and Mpumalanga – both saying they had found the car. The scammers on the phone calls told them they must send cash via Shoprite so that we could pay for the tow truck.
Another said, “This is exactly what they did to my cousin after hijacking him. He got a call that his car was about to cross the Komatipoort border, and the two occupants got arrested. To release his car, they wanted him to send R2,000.”
Yet another user commented, “They tried this with my friend, and they said the car was found in Nelspruit, and he must pay R3,000 for towing to Johannesburg (where he lived). “When taken to the police, the call was traced, and it was revealed he almost got conned by someone in Hillbrow,” they said.
Popular vehicles among criminals right now
Santam noted in its 2023 report that it had seen a shift away from older, low-value vehicles with limited security requirements to more expensive double cabs and SUVs. This aligned with the experiences of private security companies such as Fidelity ADT.
According to Fidelity, vehicles under the Toyota, VW, Ford, and Nissan brands continue to be common targets among criminals, and the specific models include:
- Toyota Hilux, Fortuner, and Corollas
- VW Polos
- Nissan NP200s
However, much like Santam’s experience, Fidelity noted that high-value cars such as Toyota Prados and Toyota Landcruisers are among the most popular models for criminals, along with the Hilux bakkie and Fortuner SUV.