A man in Beitbridge lost his family home after falling for a bogus online lotto scam in which he was lied to hat he had won millions.
Over a decade ago, Mr. Taurai Amani, a 71-year-old resident of Dulivhadzimu in Beitbridge, lost part of his house during Operation Restore Order (Murambatsvina). Left with just two rooms, he dreamt of a bigger home for his children and grandchildren.
In 2019, his dream seemed to come true when his son received a message claiming he had won £1 million from an online competition in the United Kingdom. Unbeknownst to them, it was a scam.
Mr. Amani’s son was asked to deposit US$2,000 through Western Union to claim his prize. Desperate and excited, Mr. Amani borrowed the money and sent his son to make the payment.
Trouble began when the scammers demanded an additional US$1,000. Suspecting foul play, Mr. Amani sought help from the police, only to realize that he had been conned. The US$2,000 borrowed was never repaid, and as he had used his house as collateral, it was seized by the lender, Mr. Collen Golden.
The Herald reports that last week, the Amani family was evicted from their home based on a court order. Their dire situation has rallied the community to help. Mr. Boyd Maphosa, a neighbour, expressed their determination to raise the necessary funds, stating, “Our plan is to raise the money within the shortest possible time so that we pay back Mr. Golden.”
Mr. Amani, now distraught, expressed his regrets, saying, “I felt the gods had answered my prayers of owning a bigger house for my family.” He also urged caution when dealing with online messages.
Mr. Alaska Mafuka, a para-legal consultant, advised people to seek legal assistance when entering into agreements and emphasized the importance of due diligence.
According to Mr. Golden’s lawyer, Mr. Foster Abheki, the Amani family had sold their house to Collen Golden Junior for US$4,000 in 2019. Despite receiving a partial payment, the family resisted leaving the house, resulting in a court-ordered eviction.
Mr. Abheki stated, “We are aware of the community initiatives to raise money on behalf of Mr. Amani. However, currently we are seized with responding to the legal application made by his lawyers.”
This heart-wrenching story serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of online scams and the importance of legal awareness. The Beitbridge community’s support shines a glimmer of hope for the Amani family in their time of need.