This is a brief frank and honest outline of my experience after being scammed by a South African “PH”, who disappeared with my US$15K and how I eventually managed to get him convicted. I must state here, that at the time in question (2011) there was an unrelated, legitimate PH, with the same surname and registered with PHASA. I wish to make it clear that this article is in no way directed at that legitimate, unrelated, PH. In late 2010 I booked a hunt with the South African safari company “Hunting Africa Safari” for my first buffalo hunt. My son was also coming along as an observer. The “PH” appeared to be legitimate, having both SCI and PHASA logos, client testimonials, price lists, selection of packaged hunting deals, photographic gallery and a fully interactive hunting safari web site of the same appearance and quality as any legitimate operator. From his written invoice, the South African “PH” I was to hunt with resided at: Mr Gerrie Du Preez, PO Box 76246 Lynwood Ridge 0040 South Africa With his physical business address located at: 724 Codonia Avenue Waverley Pretoria, Gauteng South Africa His online safari banking account and business name was: “GS DU PREEZ T/A HUNTING AFRICA SAFARI” was also located in Gauteng Pretoria. Everything so far, even the Pre-Safari Invoice he sent to me appeared legitimate. Throughout my emails and conversations with him he’d inform me of such usual up-country hunting irritations as: “I’m in Zim at the moment struggling to get a good internet connection”…”and I’m losing calls as once you answer there’s no connection at all” - all good indicators of a working PH contacting me as and when during hunts with other clients. At no time did he inform me he was a sub-contractor, or anything else but a bona fide owner/operator Professional Hunter. Neither did I ever find out if he actually ever had qualified as a PH. So not having hunted DG before, I paid the required fees for my 10yr old son and I – US$15K – and happily awaited for our May 2011 buffalo and plains game hunt to commence. Professionally I’m a psychiatric nurse –in reality a shit, low-paying dangerous profession that isn’t as glamourous as it sounds. As such I was no better than a nightclub bouncer, and instead of throwing aggressive patrons out, I just fought to restrain patients, accuphase them and put them into seclusion. To get out of this risky situation - perforce daily fighting the homicidal, drug-induced and/or floridly psychotic patients (including convicted murderers) - I was also putting myself through University to seek promotion. In this I used to work 17-hour shifts in the only dedicated mental health hospital in my State. But it was a gamble I was taking to achieve my career plans. I relate all this because the inevitable happened which set off this whole saga. One night while my colleague and I were in charge of a locked ward with 22 acute patients, we were both opportunistically attacked. As the younger, fitter nurse, I was targeted first as the patient wanted me incapacitated so to deal with my older colleague uninterrupted. He later stated his intent was to kill us once he’d had us both on the ground. In the attack I was concussed and temporarily blinded – amongst other injuries, and could hear my colleague screaming. So by sound and feel I fought the patient alone for 20 minutes, successfully saving my colleague. Both of us were hospitalised: unfortunately a result I later lost both my academic standing and my (then) job. Sometime later during that month I contacted Gerrie and told him the situation and what can we do as regards the hunt. He expressed his commiseration over what had occurred, and over the course of a number of emails we agreed to defer the hunt, as fully paid, over to the following season. I then put this to the back of my mind and got on with the business of recovery. Buy August, after repeated and unsuccessful attempts to contact Gerrie by phone, email, internet, postal letter and even enlisting the help of a well-known Zimbabwean PH – Gerrie had simply disappeared!! I discovered his internet site was shut down, his emails bounced back and his phones – when answered - were by people unconnected to Gerry who had simply been issued with his number. I must admit, I was at a pretty low point at this point and was so embarrassed and humiliated that I hadn’t even told my son the truth now dawning on me - I just couldn’t tell him, but on one occasion I remember him putting his arm around me saying: ”It’s going to be alright Dad!” After fruitlessly searching along these avenues for responses, and even after emailing a well-known international hunter with bags of African hunting experience for some advice or guidance (I’m STILL waiting for their response), I then decided on a top to bottom approach. I then contacted: Interpol: I made my report of the facts and their response was to put out a general Interpol alert for him. This ensured that Gerrie could not leave SA whilst it was in force (since he’d also stated that his wife was a well-known “gospel singer” with a large following in the US). South African Embassy: Here I contacted the South African Embassy in my country and report the issue. They also took down the information and alerted their Government. As a precaution, I also contacted our Embassy in South Africa and put them in the picture as well. Office of the President of South Africa: In a fit of bloody-mindedness I also contacted the Office of the President of South Africa, getting as far as an aide – both by phone and email – to make an official report. South African Police Force: I made my report, and sent them copes of all the information I had. I figured that as a licensed “PH” with firearms (Gerrie stated he had a .375HH and a .458WM) the SAPS could easily locate him through the address on either his driver’s or firearms license. It came as a bit of a shock that the Police – either couldn’t or wouldn’t - find him. I even sent an Affidavit, complete with Appendices, which after a few months was rejected on the grounds that as it wasn’t declared under South African law, it would not be recognised in their Courts. I then shafted their objection by neatly submitting an “Apostille”. This is an internationally recognised legal document, endorsed under the Seal of The Hague Convention, which I then sent to the Commercial Crimes Investigations Branch in Pretoria. Now the SAPS had undisputable legal notice that monies had been taken and, under both Contract Law and which my financial records proved, that Gerrie still had (and has to this day!) a legal obligation to me in which he had since failed to meet, or make recompense. PHASA: I contacted this organisation and over a long correspondence they admitted they had no power to control or regulate the SA safari industry in these matters. The only information I got from them was that the Gerrie Du Preez I was looking for wasn’t registered with them. BIG DEALL!! I responded by informing them that as a regulatory body they had some responsibility to protect their members and industry? I posed the scenario that as a nurse if I did something wrong the regulatory body in my country does police the industry and prosecutes offenders too! Much of their information comes from within the industry to weed out the fraudsters. In discussion, I also found it ludicrous that PHASA pulled registration fees from members, but did pretty much bugger all for them in return in this aspect! In my opinion to stand by and let the international reputation of the SA safari industry be tarnished like this, is simply negligent. When I extrapolated ahead, stating that I might as well go and set myself up in SA as a bogus PH and scam clients – they couldn’t respond either way. I ended by telling them they were nothing but “paper tigers!” PHASA has never refuted this observation. To be fair to PHASA, this exchange was transacted during 2011 and 2012: PHASA’s outlook may have changed since then – I don’t know – but I hope for the sake of the SA safari industry it has. During all this I also spent time searching for information from anyone who may have contacted Gerrie. I contacted one of the clients through his testimonial page (that I happened to have copied before Gerrie closed it down) and was informed by that source that Gerrie had scammed an unknown identity within the Russian mafia. Further research also discovered a Zimbabwean PH and his UK client that had also been scammed to the tune of about US$4-5K. Though these two gents were delighted to know that I was pursuing Gerrie, both were reluctant to pursue the matter in their respective cases. Though nice guys, it doesn’t change my opinion that it’s just this sort of apathy that allows scammers to continue masquerading as legitimate PHs to scam both clients and genuine PHs. Significantly my tenacious research I did locate Gerrie’s general whereabouts from his banking records. He had moved his financial account from Gauteng, Pretoria, to Louis Trichaardt, Limpopo. This also probably indicated his residential location as well. As soon as I was given this intelligence, I kindly passed it on to all relevant participants. On one occasion I even recall stating my belief to a SAPS brigadier that if the SAPS didn’t extract their digit from their collective orifices, the Russian mafia might find him first. Then the SAPS may just find Gerrie decomposing in a ditch up country. There matters rested until the day Gerrie would unwittingly fall into the net. Then out of the blue in 2014, I received a call from the South African Embassy in my country to contact the SAPS and the State Advocate’s Office in South Africa. I did, and it was music to my ears to hear that the SAPS had either arrested, or given an infringement to Gerrie. The result was that the outstanding issues that I’d reported and had placed around him had taken effect and he was compelled by law to answer for his actions. After discussion with an Advocate (lawyer) with the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit in Pretoria, (where I discovered that the SAPS only had one deposit slip in their records - and not all four totalling the US$15K stolen from me) the case was immediately given a high priority. I was also to be flown and accommodated by the SA Government for a week to appear as a witness for the prosecution during the case. Gerrie tried wriggling out by saying that his circumstances had changed, and he had “forgot” about the hunt and the money (about 206400 Rand) in his account that I’d paid him! Yet he was perfectly able, since then, to successfully manage a business out in the country. His financial records – submitted as evidence – also illustrated his spending this money! The case went well where all these facts were proven beyond a doubt. Also I don’t think the circumstances under which he’d defrauded me – incapacitated and hospitalised - didn’t win him much support either. I ended my evidence by stating that at no time neither had I given Gerrie the authority to use my money for anything else but to provide me with the buffalo hunt as contractually bound, nor did I authorise him to act as a sub-agent on my behalf. I further stated that at no time had he contacted me, not even by phone or postal letter, since May 2011 to discuss alternatives or to recompense my money. Since his conviction, Gerrie’s now appealing the decision as, in my opinion, a tactic of attrition. Good luck!! As two can play at that game!! Because if the State Advocate’s case is frustrated I’ll just proceed with "Plan B": commence a private civil action. The more money he pours down the drain on fruitless appeals and legal representation, then it’s just all the more he’ll lose in the long run! All I want is my buffalo hunt as contractually agreed, or a refund. Simple! But Gerrie not being a hunter hasn’t realised one thing – I AM a hunter, and if there’s one thing that hunting has taught me over the years, it’s – NEVER GIVE UP PURSUING YOUR QUARRY!!