/ 14 April 2008

Swimmer Schoeman fleeced in travel-agency scam

Olympic swimmer Roland Schoeman lost more than R40 000 in a travel-agency scam, Jacaranda radio said on Monday.

Jacarandafm.com‘s Buzz said Roland’s mother, Geraldine Schoeman, had lost the money after she booked airline tickets through an agency that turned out to be fraudulent.

Geraldine said her office manager discovered the agency through an advertisement in the Pretoria News.

She then booked a ticket for Roland to return to the United States after being in South Africa for the Olympic trials.

”The quote was very good — in fact it was astonishing,” Geraldine told the radio station.

”We went ahead with the booking. The agency then came back to us and said they’d made a mistake. The new price wasn’t brilliant [about R30 000], but there was so little time left, we took the ticket.”

She spent just over R42 000 for Roland’s business-class ticket. She also booked a ticket through the travel agency from Durban to Johannesburg for herself.

When she was on the plane, she was approached by a kulula.com security agent who said that her ticket had been purchased through a fraudulent transaction.

”Apparently the payment to the airline [from the agency] had been made with a stolen credit card or some other fraudulent means.”

Geraldine said when she tried to find out about her son’s ticket, she discovered no transaction had ever been made with Delta airlines.

She said she had to borrow money to buy her son a new ticket.

The case has been handed to the police’s commercial crimes unit.

Geraldine said the account into which she had paid the money for the tickets had already been cleaned out once the investigation began.

She told the radio station the fraud had had a devastating effect on her and her son’s cash flow.

”I have been funding Roland’s swimming by literally cashing in my retirement annuities. South African sponsors have owed us money for years, for trips, I don’t get my money back from them.” — Sapa