Crime/27 July 2023,11:03am/Staff Writer
Staff Writer: In a bid to protect the public from falling victim to a fraudulent funeral scheme, Mokgadi Bokaba, the head of the Hawks in the Free State, has issued a cautionary statement. This comes in the wake of an elderly woman’s complaint against an illegal funeral operator in Bohlokong, Bethlehem.
The complaint was filed with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) by the elderly woman, who had taken out funeral cover with the operator and diligently paid her premiums from 2017 to 2022. Shockingly, when she needed to claim funeral benefits, the operator failed to honor the policy.
Upon receiving the complaint, the FSCA promptly referred the matter to the Hawks, citing additional concerns that the funeral scheme was not endorsed by any legitimate underwriting authority. Subsequently, a thorough investigation was launched into the case. On July 25, the Hawks team in Bethlehem served a summons to a 50-year-old man believed to be the mastermind behind the illegal operation.
Zweli Mohobeleli, the Hawks spokesperson in the Free State, disclosed that the suspect will be facing charges of fraud, theft, money laundering, and contravention of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, 37 of 2002. The accused is scheduled to appear before the local court on August 25, 2023.
The arrest and impending court appearance of the alleged perpetrator serve as a stern warning to others who may be involved in similar fraudulent activities. The Hawks are committed to protecting the public from unscrupulous individuals seeking to exploit vulnerable citizens during times of grief and loss.
Authorities urge the public to exercise caution when choosing funeral schemes or any financial service, emphasizing the importance of verifying the legitimacy of providers and thoroughly understanding the terms and conditions of the agreements.
The Hawks have assured the public that they will continue to pursue individuals involved in fraudulent schemes and bring them to justice. They encourage anyone who suspects fraudulent activities to come forward and report them, as it plays a crucial role in safeguarding the community against financial scams.
Mohobeli confirmed that the suspect is scheduled to make an appearance before the local court on August 25, 2023. The accused will be facing multiple charges, including fraud, theft, money laundering, and contravention of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act, 37 of 2002.
In light of these developments, Bokaba, the head of the Hawks in the Free State, made a direct appeal to individuals who may have been defrauded by the accused, particularly in the Bethlehem area. He urged potential victims to come forward and report their cases to Detective Constable Lineo Ralejalla. Victims can reach Detective Constable Ralejalla by dialing 082 372 0386.