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Rajah rages over 'rip-off'

Couturier to the stars Gavin Rajah claims he has fallen victim to the man accused of a scam that exploited the name of international model Tyra Banks.

Thabo Bester, aka Tom Kelly, is out on bail after being arrested last month. He had allegedly advertised that he was working on an African version of Bank's reality show, America's Next Top Model, and charged wannabe models R400 to take part.

He was also accused of defrauding sportswear companies and the owners of a show venue.

Now Rajah alleges that his name is being used by Bester to tempt fashion designers into entering “BBC World Fashion Week” — at R2000 a pop. “What a nerve this fool has,” Rajah told The Times from Cape Town. “He actually uses my name to lure them by saying that I have entered the competition as well and that I will be there to judge their garments.”

The couturier became aware of the alleged scam after several designers contacted him, asking for advice on their designs.

Rajah said he would not press charges. But he warned fellow fashionistas on his Facebook profile: “OMG! [Oh my God] We have a con artist trying to rip our fashion industry off! Beware ‘Tom Kelly'... some of you have been victim of this fool already ...”

Repeated attempts to contact Bester were unsuccessful.

Rajah — who was not aware of the “Africa's Next Top Model” affair — alleged that Bester had boasted that the British Fashion Council was a sponsor of the competition.

“I was so shocked to think someone would go all out [and] send documentation to people. It turns out that [this] was not his first [alleged scam]. He also invited friends to a black-tie dinner that didn't exist.”

Police spokesman Inspector Moses Maphakela — who arrested Bester and his associate, Bongani Mtshali, in connection with the alledged swindling of R16000 from talent management company Twisted Lemon and sports shoe chain Cross Trainer — said “Tom Kelly” could be arrested again if a complaint were made.

Source: The Times

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