Radio presenter Darren ”Wackhead” Simpson has taken his famous prankster skills a step further — this time by helping police trace an alleged scam artist.
According to Eyewitness News, the scammer is wanted on 85 different criminal complaints related to a holiday-accommodation scam. It’s understood the man puts up advertisements displaying images of rooms and views in the classifieds. He then asks for a sizeable deposit.
”He was posting ads on gumtree.co.za, renting holiday apartments. I called all the various adverts under the different names over a period of two months, and every time it was the exact same guy,” Simpson told the M&G Online on Thursday.
”I knew I had been scammed, because when I paid the deposit and the guy stopped answering my calls, a couple of days later the number would not even connect — he obviously ditched the sim card. ”
The scam has been running for years and has robbed hundreds of their money.
Late last year Simpson — who was caught out by the scam two years ago — found out he wasn’t the only one who had been scammed. After a listener emailed him to say her boyfriend had been scammed in a similar way, ”the plan unravelled from there. I got in touch with the police immediately, and said together we can catch this guy. This marked the beginning of ‘Operation Wackhead’.”
According to Simpson, the listener had a more recent contact number for the scammer, ”and could help us with his new modus operandi”.
Since then, Simpson and the police have made and recorded numerous calls with the scammer and have managed to trace his whereabouts.
They have traced him to Paarl and have an image of a man (right) who they believe can help with the investigation.
”We’ve had quite a lot of feedback from the public, and now we have to follow up on what we have,” Captain Dennis Adriao from the office of the national police commissioner told the M&G Online.
The police are asking anyone with information to SMS Crime Line’s anonymous tip-off line, 3 22 11.