Man defrauded by 'loan' company

Forms that David Marcus received while negotiating his personal loan and his deposit slips for amounts he was told to pay upfront.

MOSSEL BAY NEWS - A Mossel Bay man is kicking himself after being defrauded by a so-called personal loan company which advertises on facebook.

David Marcus came into the Mossel Bay Advertiser offices to tell his story and kept saying: "People will think I am so stupid."

But despite feeling shame-faced, he decided to put his embarrassment aside, saying: "I am doing this to help other people." He hopes that those who read about his story will be forewarned and not fall into the same trap he did. Marcus works as a staff nurse at a clinic in town.

Wrong address
The company calls itself Tower Finance and Loans and for its letterhead it has borrowed the address of Nedgroup Investments in Johannesburg – 135 Rivonia Road, Nedbank Building, Sandown, Sandton. Obviously liking the official-looking pine green colour of Nedbank's branding, Tower Finance and Loans has a smart, professional-looking website, also with headings and online forms to fill in, in pine green.

Marcus contacted Tower Finance and Loans and sent off the forms they requested including a photocopy of his bank statement. He shudders to think they have that and might somehow steal from his bank account. He was told by a woman called Stella he dealt with, that he should pay a R850 administration fee prior to receiving the R15 000 loan he requested.

Deposit
He made the deposit via Capitec bank and was later told by a Capitec representative, when Marcus smelt a rat, that the money was withdrawn from that account within five minutes of him depositing it. Stella told Marcus he had to pay the insurance fee upfront too. 

This was R1 250, which Marcus paid in two instalments via First National Bank. Stella only gave him an account number, but when he made all the deposits, via Capitec and First National Bank, the account holder's name came up as a private person, Mr Tshepo E Motlalehi.

Marcus was suspicious when asked to pay the insurance fee and said to Stella: "Is this a scam?" She assured him she was a "Christian with three children" and it was not a scam. He has a WhatsApp record of communication between himself and Stella. In some of the WhatsApps, she addresses him as "my dear". 

At one stage, when he balked at having to pay monies upfront, a Mr R Govender contacted him, saying his loan request would be denied if he did not pay.

Marcus said: "I should have thought about it. This is total ludicrousy for them to charge before a loan. I feel so stupid."

At one stage in their communications, during a telephone conversation, he asked: "Why are there children screaming in the background?"

Stella replied: "They are my children." He asked why they were at her office, but she did not reply. Marcus sent emails to info.towerfin@financier.com.

Final straw
The final straw was when Marcus received a letter seemingly from HSBC bank in England, stating that if he paid a further amount, he would qualify for a larger loan – R20 000. He refused.

On one of the letterheads he received is the following: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 501 South Main St, London, KY 40741. This address is for a city called London in Kentucky, USA. The letterheads seem to have mixed up addresses. One has a red stamp on it and another is signed, seemingly by someone with a doctorate degree. 

The printed out letterheads looked faded, as if the logos have been tampered with and photocopied several times. Marcus left the Mossel Bay Advertiser offices saying he would report the fraud at his closest police station, Da Gamaskop.

ARTICLE:  LINDA SPARG, MOSSEL BAY ADVERTISER JOURNALIST

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