An alleged serial fraudster who had been on the run for a year, was arrested on the Grand Parade, after the investigating officer recognised his voice.
Shuaib Amad, 35, has since been linked to, and formally charged for other cases of fraud.
He will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court for his formal bail application on Thursday June 6.
Cape Town Central police spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said Mr Amad had allegedly booked accommodation in the city centre last year, and extended his stay.
When the hotel asked him for the payment of his extended stay, he showed them a fraudulent proof of payment. When the hotel management followed up, he had already checked out and has been on the run ever since.
Investigating officer Constable Luvolwethu Mzikwana said after the case was opened, he checked with the bank, which confirmed the payment was fraudulent.
“The court gave us a warrant for his arrest and we have been looking for him since then.”
Constable Mzikwana said he had spoken to Mr Amad as he had always left his direct cellphone number with the hotels he checked in at. “He would change his surname, but the name he used was always Shuaib.”
While Constable Mzikwana went to get something to eat on the Grand Parade recently, he heard a voice that sounded like that of Mr Amad. “When I saw where the voice came from, I checked my phone for the picture circulated by the hotel and it was him. I then arrested him and charged him with fraud.”
Constable Mzikwana said when he was charged, Mr Amad had a list of crimes he was charged for, including a stint during which he had pretended to work as a City of Cape Town official in Maitland selling repossessed cars. The case has now been postponed five times, due to Mr Amad not having a fixed address.
“He kept giving me an address where no one lives in Grassy Park. I then went to ask the neighbours, and they said no one lives at the house, and his family said they wanted nothing to do with him because of his reputation.”
He said more people have since come forward to lay charges against Mr Amad. “I got a phone call from someone in Mitchell’s Plain that said he had paid the suspect
R50 000 for a quantum taxi that was never delivered. Management of another city centre hotel has also come forward.”
Constable Mzikwana appealed to anyone who has been a victim of Mr Amad to come forward so that they are able to build a strong case.
Captain October said with the rise of social media and online purchases, cases of fraud are becoming more common.
The police warned people who shop online, as well as hotel management to make sure that people’s details were cross-checked before they are booked in.
The Central City Improvement District (CCID) security manager, Muneeb Hendricks, said he was aware of him and a few other individuals who committed these kinds of offences in the city centre.
“As the CCID is usually contacted once the offence has been committed, and as we have no mandate to investigate crime, there is little that we can do.
“Fraud is a specialised crime, and unfortunately these suspects often get away without being arrested. They either barter their way out of being arrested by hotel management, or they disappear without a trace.”
Mr Hendricks said this type of crime was not that common in city centre hotels and very few cases had been recorded. “Most of the hotels in the Central City belong to a hospitality security network where information on crime is shared so if something happens at one hotel, the other hotels are informed and can take action to prevent it happening at their establishments.”
Cape Town Tourism declined to comment as they did not have information about the specifics of this case. The management of one of the hotels which fell victim to Mr Amad also declined to comment, saying “we only focus on good things”.