Bester a palooka compared to Alistair Peterson

There is a movie called Catch Me If You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, and this film reminds me of the Reiger Park’s Boksburg cyber-criminal and ex-convict Alistair Peterson, who siphoned R55-million from banks.

Enter Thabo Bester. Rapist, murderer and scammer.

Based on reports, Bester used tricks to convince women via his Facebook accounts to believe he was a talent scout. He would arrange meetings with them and later rape and rob them.

In 2006, during the Jay-Z tour in South Africa, Bester went by the name of Tom Kelly, having cornrows on his head and lived in Naturena, south of Joburg. He manufactured fake concert tickets, sold them to friends and unsuspecting people in Naturena and other areas, telling them to go watch Jay-Z live at the Dome.

Those who bought them revealed he sold fake tickets for R200. For the VIP treat, it cost a cool R500.

Off to the Dome in Northgate with their fake tickets, but at entry point they were turned back: “These things are fake.”  Then they would call Bester. He had dashed out to another mission. He had made his money. Another project beckoned. He moved on.

Just like in Catch Me If You Can, DiCaprio plays a leading character as Frank Abagnale, a young man who uses his genius and lack of scruples to scam airlines, banks, police and FBI over a multi-year crime spree. Bester is in the same league.

Okay, let’s go back to cyber-criminal Peterson. He wrote on his blog he needed to clear misconceptions wrongly written about him.  “To err is human, but to learn and grow through those errors is what builds character,” he said. But can we say the same about Bester?

Before he was arrested, Peterson was the mastermind behind an elaborate online bank-hacking syndicate.

When it comes to how Peterson executed his modus operandi, Bester’s scams do not come close. In fact, Bester looks like a palooka.

Peterson was a real problem for the top four banks in the country. He would leave experienced cyber security experts scratching their heads on how he had breached their highly protected and encrypted security to steal money. No small change – R55-million.

He was released on parole only to be re-arrested for “escaping” from jail.

But Bester escaped from Mangaung Maximum Private Prison under the guise that he had “burnt to death” –bizarre. As for Peterson, authorities at the Boksburg Prison had failed to note he had been paroled by the Scorpions’ cyber- crimes unit, it reported at the time.

But Bester escaped from lawful custody with the help of  rogue officials and was declared to have burnt in his cell. What nonsense? Will this drama of Bester and Dr Nandipha
Magudumana make a great documentary? Time will tell.

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