Land-seekers 'easy prey'

Vosloorus residents have been conned out of thousands of rands by fraudsters illegally selling municipal stands, the Ekurhuleni metropolitan municipality said on Tuesday.

"Desperate land-seekers have become easy prey for the fraudsters, who sell them council-owned land for anything ranging between R22 000 to R80 000," spokesman Zweli Dlamini said in a statement.

Victims found out they had been conned only when they went to the council to apply for services, he said.

The municipality became aware of the problem last year when a member of the community, who bought land from someone posing as a council representative, tried to open a water and lights account, said Dlamini.

The fraudster had told the victim the sale would be fast-tracked if the transaction was done "speedily" and had dropped the names of council officials as proof that he was working with the municipality.

Dlamini said the municipality had uncovered seven transactions.

"What we suspect is happening is that the perpetrators come to our offices to enquire about empty stands. Since this is public information, it gets shared with them and they use the information to defraud other people," he said.

In some of cases, people had put up structures on the land they thought they had bought from the municipality.

"Unfortunately, if you are sold council property illegally we [the municipality] will have no option but to evict you and have any erected structures demolished," said Dlamini.

He said the municipality was working on the matter with the police and a 70-year-old man had already been successfully prosecuted for a similar act of fraud. - Sapa

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