A phantom car dealer has duped at least 13 prospective customers of about R1 million in exchange for make believe cars that he did not have.
The fake car dealer, Thomas Beck is accused of selling cars belonging to other dealers and has allegedly defrauded consumers under the pretext he was selling cars.
Beck first came to the notice of the police in July and released on R5000 bail. He was rearrested later that month after 10 more victims accused him of theft by false pretence and he was granted R10,000 bail. He is due to appear in the Springs Magistrate’s Court on October 10.
Police spokesman Captain Johannes Ramphora confirmed that Beck was arrested for defrauding about 13 consumers of an amount possibly in excess of R1 million.
“We expect the number of victims could increase as the suspect has been operating in this fashion for quite some time,” said Ramphora.
Pule Maboke, one of Beck’s victims, said Becks targeted buyers who did not have deposits, driver’s licences nor had low credit ratings.
Although he does not own the cars he purports to sell, he frequents dealerships where he “shows” the cars on sale belonging to other dealers.
Maboke responded to an advert Beck placed in a local newspaper last December which promised to sell cars to consumers who are either blacklisted or do not have licences.
Beck took him to Beto Motors in North West and Hugo Motors in Springs to choose his dream car.
Maboke did not sign a contract with him, but Beck sent him forms authorising him to do credit checks on both Maboke and his mother’s name.
“I did not have a good credit rating and my mother, who also does not have a driver’s licence, was willing to stand in as a surety for me when applying for finance,” Maboke explained.
Little did he know that he and his mother were going to be deceived into applying for a personal loan of R48,000 with the help of Beck, and a credit card for his mother whose funds were later transferred to Beck.
To top-up the money from his pocket to buy the car he liked, Beck arranged that Maboke’s mother hand over the credit card and pin number to him and withdrew amounts of R4,000 until the card’s R30,000 limit was reached.
“No car was delivered as promised, but Beck was seen in video footages buying alcohol, clothing and making withdrawals from different places using my mother’s credit card.”
Maboke now has to repay R4500 per month for the debt.
One car dealer who kicked Beck out within a few months of him renting an office at the dealer’s premises, said Beck was a smooth operator who tricked gullible consumers by hiring offices inside or near dealerships.
“He is sly about it, he makes them think they are getting good deals as he also offers discounts on the cars he does not own,” the dealer said.
Maboke learnt he had been conned when Beck gave him countless excuses instead of delivering the car but he was not the only one to fall prey to Beck.
Roger Swanevelder of Springs, who claims to be Beck’s former partner, said he parted ways with him 10 years ago, after he found out Beck had defrauded their clients and him.
He said Beck defrauded him of an undisclosed purchase amount for four cars and a loan amount of R95,000.