What happens when you take one outrageous gamble too many? You lose, that’s what happens! And that is what happened to Cindy Saunders, an admitted fraudster when she, in what many see as the last throw – or last two throws, possibly – of the dice tried to raise money through crowdfunding: it backfired as angry former customers shut her down.
Crowdfunding Your Way Out of Gambling Addiction? How Bizarre!
You come across a bizarre story every now and then, and they don’t get any more bizarre than this! Cindy Saunders is currently undergoing trial for a whole list of charges starting with fraud – 146 counts in all – worth up to R19 million. She even pleads guilty to 45 of those counts on February 19, 2021.
And then on Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, she starts a crowdfunding page – on GoFundMe – asking for monetary help! And then she sets up another similar platform, ClickNDonate, with the same story! No prizes for guessing the correct answer though; it didn’t work. A big hue and cry raised by angry ex-clients led to the pages being closed within a day of being started.
On both these pages, she apparently confesses to a gambling problem and asks for help to get her life back on track!
So why would someone do something like that? One possibility is that Cindy Saunders is pushing the narrative of her not having responsibility for her actions because she is a gambling addict who is incapable of controlling herself.
This is what she wrote on her GoFundMe page under the heading Gambling Addiction – This is a Real Addiction:
“I have been called a monster, a disgrace, a thief, a pig, a person not deserving to be a mom, a person deserving to rot in hell. I sit here today fighting for my life knowing I have tried to confess to everything and fix my wrongs, but being a compulsive gambler comes with a price and for me it’s a cost. Currently my sentence is sitting at minimum 15 years and I’m fighting to prove a gambling addiction is real and there are millions who suffer from this addiction. In order for me to do this, I have to undergo treatment that comes at a huge cost which I don’t have. I’m asking everyone to please hear my story and even if it’s R100 that is donated it will help fight gambling awareness and prove this illness.”
On that page, she listed the bank details to which contributions should be sent – surprisingly they were the details of Carl van der Merwe, a Durban attorney who represented her in the lawsuit. The fundraising goal stated was £30,000 or approximately R600,000!
That was not the end of it; the next day, Wednesday, there is another appeal, this time on ClickNDonate! The title and text remained the same, however, the bank details were listed as hers and the funding goal was changed to R100,000.
Hell Hath No Fury Like a Client Conned: The Backlash
Ex-clients of Precise Shipping Solutions – the company that Ms. Saunders started for the stated purpose of movement of personal and household goods for immigration and whose collapse had left many clients looking to immigrate in deep trouble – were livid when they saw/heard of the posts. A combined statement from them read:
“We all lost so much and not just in monetary terms but also our housewares, special memories and damaged lives when we all decided to use Precise Shipping Solutions Pty Ltd…
…This new scam with GoFundMe and ClickNDonate is so amazing and this woman is clearly not sane as she hasn’t even shown an ounce of remorse and deserves to be jailed for the rest of her life as she is, clearly a danger to the civilized community.”
There were angry individual responses too, with one customer saying, “The best treatment Cindy Saunders can have right now won’t cost her a dime. Spend time in jail. I’m pretty sure it will cure her. I have no words.”
The result was swift: by Thursday the page on GoFundMe had been shut down. The ClickNDonate page was taken down the next day. Thankfully, none of the pages showed any signs of donations having been made to Saunders’ request.
By Saturday, the attorney van der Merwe sent an e-mailed response to The Independent, stating that ‘Carl van der Merwe and Associates would like to inform…that we are not participating in any GoFundMe pages.’
Gambling Habit or Serial Con: Durban’s Shipping Con Artist
Cindy Saunders has been charged on 146 counts and made her most recent appearance at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on 19thFebruary, where she confessed to 45 of those counts, all related to defrauding her previous employer, Nicholson Shipping, and SK Boyz, another company whom she contacted to sell shipping containers for, of almost R19 million.
She stated that she had a gambling problem and was heavily in debt to a number of loan sharks. She set up a scheme of selling containers – and no, these containers didn’t exist – along with 3 others. She had met the managing director of Nicholson Shipping in October 2018, disclosed that she had been defrauding the company because of her gambling problem and debt, and resigned.
Then, she set up her own company, the now-infamous Precise Shipping Solutions. Together with Terence Raju, another accused, she defrauded people and shipping companies alike by buying and selling non-existent containers. The proceeds of all these transactions went into their pockets, of course.
The fraud came to light when clients who had hired her services complained that their goods not moving as she had not paid out money, which they had paid her, to shipping companies to help ship out the goods. Shipping companies joined in by stating that she owed them millions in shipping costs.
The case is currently in the courts and 30th April has been set as the date for pre-sentencing reports. She has currently been convicted on the 45 counts that she pled guilty to, according to Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, the National Prosecution Authority spokesperson.