HE FLASHES HIS CASH IN FACEBOOK POSE
A Francistown man on the run from police over allegations of fraud has posted pictures of himself on Facebook posing with bundles of cash.
Michael Fortune Balapi, the 28-year-old former owner of Emotive Car Import Company, is wanted for questioning after disgruntled customers complained that he had ripped them off in dubious car deals.
Complaints against the alleged conman have flooded into consumer protection organisation Consumer Watchdog as defrauded customers sought help in bringing Balapi, commonly known as “Bling,” to book.
Francistown’s Central Police have opened a case against him as angry clients told Consumer Watchdog how he had swindled them of their hard earned cash with false promises to deliver UK imported vehicles.
One of the customers, GaoMooketsitold how she lost money to Balapi when her boyfriend tried to buy a vehicle for her.
“My fiancé was cheated by a young man commonly know as Bling. He obtained monies amounting to P120 000 in February 2012 on agreement that he would be delivering an X3 BMW car from the UK in three weeks,” she related.
When no car was forthcoming the matter was reported to the police in Francistown, but there was no development in this case.
Mooketsi said that together with her fiancé she had traced Balapi to his brother’s house in Block 9 in Gaborone, but the man fled when they demanded their money back.
Although he has eluded police for some time now, The Voice on Monday managed to contact him on his cell phone.
Commenting on the matter the unfazed Balapi, who is believed to be back in Francistown, said: “The money you see me holding in that picture on Facebook has got nothing to do with the people I owe.
I took that picture in Namibia after selling a car to a happy customer,” he said.
Although he admitted allegations levelled against him he insisted he was still trying to raise funds to pay back unhappy clients, including Mooketsi’s boyfriend.
“The problem I have is that I’m getting calls from people I don’t even know.
I made a deal with that woman’s boyfriend and not her.
She should just leave me alone so that I can raise the money and pay her boyfriend.
The reason why I ran away when they came for the money is that the boyfriend was threatening to kill me,” he said.
Another incensed customer, Portia PenahPhalaetsile told of how she was conned by Balapi and his business partner.
“I ordered a laptop first through this guy, which he delivered, then a Blackberry phone, also delivered probably because he knew I wanted to buy a car.
Then I ordered a car in August 2010 and deposited P35 000 into the account of his business partner named Trevor.
I still have copies of the transaction.
We even signed a contract, which I still have.”
The car was supposed to have arrived within 30 days but never came.
“Nothing happened except a series of lies.
At times he even asked for more money to finish up some transactions, which I blindly gave,” she said.
Phalaetsileadded that the case was reported to Masunga Police but nothing came of it.
“I engaged a lawyer and a sheriff was later involved but they said they could not find him.”
Superintendent MojaboswaMathitha at Francistown’s Central Police Station confirmed that they were looking for Balapi, but he had proved to be elusive.
“The Magistrates court has issued a warrant of arrest for him and we are hoping to nab him before the end of this week,”said Mojaboswa.