On Christmas Day Noseweek reader Karen Varejes had her iPhone stolen from her handbag on the Camps Bay beachfront. She discovered it was missing within minutes and called MTN to deactivate it. Next day she dialled her number, only to discover that it had been reactivated.
A man answered, claiming he had picked up the phone and was happy to return it. However he had already had two other people claiming it was theirs, so could she prove it was hers by giving him the PIN number? She was not as gullible as that.
Karen’s husband, Clive, then went into an MTN store where they again agreed to deactivate the sim card. Somehow, from somewhere, it was reactivated within minutes. This happened at least 10 times over the next four days. “Each time we called the number, the cheeky thief answered,” said Clive. “Is MTN simply grossly incompetent or is someone in MTN friendly with the thief?” he asked. You decide.
At some stage the thief managed to have R50-worth of airtime on Karen’s phone transferred to another number. Call that number – and he answers.
Only when Clive called Cape Talk and Radio 702 with their story, did the couple get effective action from MTN. Someone from head office called and arranged for the phone itself to be remotely locked, making it useless in the hands of the thief.
A formal charge of theft was laid at the Camps Bay Police Station. “They informed us that they suspected the racket was operated by a gang from Côte d’Ivoire or Nigeria – but three weeks later, still no action from the police,” Clive Varejes told Noseweek.
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