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JOHANESBURG – Police in South Africa have launched an extensive manhunt for a man identified as Lucky Innocent Talemwa after a woman was swindled of R1.6 million in a love scam.
“The police in Middelburg are requesting members of the public to assist in locating Mr Lucky Innocent Talemwa, as investigators are convinced that he could be of great assistance in their probe of a theft case amounting to R1.6 million,” ($85,715.98) said Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.
A case of theft under false pretence was opened at Middelburg police station in April 2023 after the Mpumalanga woman had a relationship with a man.
During the relationship, the wanted man informed the woman that he is a Ugandan national.
“The victim further alluded that the two were an item and it was during the course of their relationship that the man reportedly showed her a lot of black notes,” Mohlala said.
“He then convinced her that, in order for him to convert the black notes into real South African bank notes, he would need a lot of real South African bank notes,” he said.
The woman eventually resigned from her job and subsequently withdrew money on different days. She handed the money to her lover, convinced that he would convert his cache of bank notes into “real bank notes”.
“The total amount of cash that was reportedly given to the man is about R1.6 million,” police said.
The lover then “vanished into thin air” and since then he has never been seen by the Mpumalanga woman.
“A case was then registered with the police. When investigators continue with their probe, they then realised that Mr Lucky Innocent Talemwa could be of great help in their quest to find the suspect, hence police urge Mr Talemwa to immediately come into contact with the police in Middelburg,” Mohlala said.
“Police further urge anyone who might know his whereabouts to call the Crime Stop number at 08600 10111 or send information via the My SAPS App. All received information will be treated as confidential and callers may opt to remain anonymous.”
Meanwhile, provincial commissioner of SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has warned community members to be vigilant against several schemes aimed at robbing them of their hard-earned money and property.
“Criminals are taking an advantage of the vulnerability of people and often target single women by starting relationships with them. These perpetrators would often lure them to make loans from financial institutions then ignite some kind of excitement that would be characterised by empty promises,” said Manamela.
“At the end, these female victims, out of excitement would be convinced to retire from work.
“The public should not forget of the agonising outcomes that they might experience when they decide to take risks with their cash. This can end up in sobbing stories for the victims, so people should always be vigilant,” she said.
Last year, the Hawks arrested two women, Omotese Ebor and Fortune Nomfusi in a major breakthrough following a “romance scam” in which an unnamed woman was swindled out of almost R2 million.
“The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in Gauteng is pleased with the breakthrough regarding the online dating scam in the country which resulted in an additional arrest in Sandton,” Gauteng Hawks spokesperson Captain Ndivhuwo Mulamu said at the time.
It is alleged that between December 2016 and January 2018, the unsuspecting woman met a “potential partner” on social media. Ebor allegedly introduced herself and presented herself as a man by the name “Mr Allen Grey”, claiming to be a prominent businessman in the Western Cape.
“It was reported that a few days after they started dating, the accused, Omotese Ebor, also known as Tessy, allegedly continuously borrowed money from the complainant,” said Mulamu.
The accused Ebor, pretending to be Allen Grey, reportedly borrowed approximately R1.9 million during this period, claiming that “his” bank accounts had been hacked, Mulamu said.