SCAMMER NAMED AND ARRESTED

The name of the woman who has over the last six months allegedly been defrauding people through her accommodation booking agency has finally been officially released.

SAPS Spokesperson Captain Malcolm Poje said “I can confirm that the accused – Marianne Roux (32) – appeared in the Thembalethu magistrates’ court earlier today (Monday 24 June) in connection with a theft case that was reported to the George SAPS during January 2019. She initially defrauded people by taking their deposits that were supposed to be paid over to the rightful owners of places of holiday accommodation, using the deposits for her own lavish lifestyle.”

He said that she had been arrested at her home in Sedgefield on Friday, 21 June 2019 and detained at Conville SAPS holding cells until her first court appearance on Monday 24 June.

Though only facing a single case at this time, there are numerous other cases that have been opened against Roux by other victims who have fallen prey to her fraudulent behaviour, and evidence is being gathered by SAPS with the assistance of some of these victims.

Poje says that only time will tell how many people Roux has scammed.

“So far 13 complainants have come forward to report that they have been defrauded,” he stated, “This scammer is believed to have swindled these innocent people out of money amounting to more than R70 000.00. We believe that more people could have been conned, we therefore appeal to potential victims to report it to their nearest police station.” He added that people from as far as Lephalale, Midrand, Kempton Park and Bellville had fallen prey to this scammer.

Since January this year The EDGE has regularly included reports of the fraudulent activities of this local lady, but as she hadn’t been officially arrested and charged we could not legally reveal her identity until her first appearance in court.

This legality was a source of frustration for those she had duped. More than a few were clamouring for her name to be ‘put out there’, especially as it seemed she was conning more and more people as the months wore on. Though some had opened police cases against Roux, the wheels of justice were evidently turning slowly for this ‘white collar crime’. This was partly because at least a few of the cases were opened by people living elsewhere in the country at their local police stations.

When news of visitors’ money disappearing into the seemingly bottomless pockets of Roux broke in January this year, a few locals thought that it was merely a result of mismanagement by the young business lady. After all, she was a born and bred Sedgefield mother with strong roots in the community. Indeed when Jurgens van der Walt of the Sedge Info Centre heard the reports of her misdemeanors, he contacted Roux directly and suggested that she ‘come clean’.

“If Marianne had admitted then that she owed the money and agreed to stop her business, and seek help, I’m sure that she could have avoided the jail time she’s facing now,” he said. But though she made promises to him that she would do this, Roux actually continued her very questionable ‘business dealings’.

It wasn’t long before her fraudulent activities mounted up to reach a point of no return, and her victims started clamouring for her arrest – especially when they realised how many of them she had soft-soaped with the same excuses, promises and falsified proof of payments.

Such was their frustration that on 6 June, a ‘WhatsApp’ group was formed by the victims with the aim of gathering information. Before long it grew to 26 members, most of whom had been on the wrong end of Roux’s fraud. Some suffered the simple loss of a R2000 breakage deposit, whilst others have accommodated Roux’s clients but never been paid. There is even a family who relocated to George to find that the house they had ‘leased’ through Roux (with deposit and rent paid for in advance) wasn’t even available for rent.

One member of the group is Estelle Ciaglia, a Cape Town resident who was scammed by Marianne for an amount of R4000 for accommodation booked and paid for in February 2019. (The booking was for her family holiday in December this year, but Estelle has since found out that the owner of the property was not even aware that her house had been rented out, and had certainly received no money from Roux.) Estelle has been assisting SAPS Detective Constable Yoko, the investigating officer, in gathering information on behalf of the victims of Roux, and says that his sterling efforts need to be applauded.
“I have never before come across a SAPS member with so much dedication and commitment. He was absolutely “walking the extra mile” and we salute this exceptional man,” she wrote in an email to The EDGE. Even after he had secured Roux’s arrest, she explained, Yoko had worked diligently to make sure the evidence was in order. “He has provided outstanding service in this case. Even whilst being on sick leave he was committed to continuing his investigation right through the weekend and ’til very late on Saturday evening,” she said.

During her first appearance in court Roux was remanded in custody and the case was postponed to 11 July 2019 for a formal bail application which, according to SAPS Malcolm Poje, the investigating officer will oppose.

Meanwhile Jurgens van der Walt says the Sedgefield Info Centre is appealing for people to spread the word that family and friends should not book any accommodation through any of Marianne Roux’s sites, Eden Events or Eden Travel, and that if they have already done so they should make every effort to contact the owners of their holiday accommodation to make sure they are actually booked in. He fears that people may arrive in the Garden Route for their annual holiday, only to find that they have nowhere to stay!