Cape Town – An alleged confidence trickster, accused of duping an elderly woman and her brother into parting with more than R5 million for the purchase of uncut diamonds, to be cut and polished and sold for her in the United Kingdom, appeared in a court in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Richard Allen Janse van Vuuren, 60, of Arthur Seat Mansions in Sea Point, appeared in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Bellville, before magistrate Sabrina Sonenberg.
He faces six counts of fraud, involving R5 450 000, but has not yet been asked to plead. The charge sheet alleges that he befriended the woman, 61, and dated her several times with coffee and lunches to gain her trust.
During the dates he told her he was retired and divorced, and licensed to deal in uncut diamonds. At one stage, he asked if she was interested in buying uncut diamonds, which he would have cut for her at a friend’s factory, and then resell them for her in the UK.
She was interested, and informed her brother of the investment opportunity.
They fell for the story, and together raised a total of R5 450 000 between December 2013 and June 2014. It is alleged that he even proposed marriage to the woman.
Prosecutor Ezmeralda Johnson alleges that the woman and her brother never saw any diamonds, and that whenever she inquired about her investment Van Vuuren assured her that it was still safe.
The brother became suspicious when no profits were forthcoming, but Van Vuuren assured him that the diamonds had been sent to London to be auctioned. In the Easter of 2015, Van Vuuren informed them that the diamonds had finally been sold, and that the buyers had 10 days in which to pay.
In April of that year, there was a news report of a heist at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in London, and Van Vuuren said the diamonds had been stolen.
The State alleges that the two victims never received any dividends, nor their money back, and the police investigation revealed that Van Vuuren was in fact not a licensed diamond cutter.
At Wednesday’s proceedings, defence attorney Danelle Sive said she wished to submit written representations to the Western Cape Directorate for Public Prosecutions about the matter, and the case was postponed to March 3. She did not indicate what the representations would be about.