We’ve all received that email from a Nigerian prince with a dead uncle and a pending coup, who can solve all of our financial troubles if we just hand over our banking details and a small lawyer’s fee.
But what happens when you get a call from a seemingly legitimate source, with an offer to invest in your business?
This is what happened to Mpumalanga businessman Gilbert Nkosi, who got a call from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office informing him of a R200 million investment in his company.
Unfortunately for Nkosi, he only figured out that he was being scammed after he had already paid a significant amount of cash to the fraudsters.
Here’s Times LIVE:
It was only later, after many e-mails and “official” correspondence, that he started growing suspicious.
Unfortunately, by this time, he had already paid R5,600 in “legal fees” to enable the R200m payment; and he was being asked for another R62,000 in “transfer fees”.
…Nkosi received “calls and e-mails” from the president’s office telling him that his company has been identified to receive a R200m investment from the China Development Bank (CDB). He was to receive this funding through the help and assistance of “Ramaphosa”.
Nkosi said that the person who phoned him claimed to be the president of the Chinese Development Bank, and spoke with a Chinese accent. He reported this to the Hawks, who have committed to taking the issue up with National Intelligence.
Nkosi is not the only SA businessman to fall prey to scam artists posing as government officials:
Another Johannesburg-based businessman lost R75,000 after he received an e-mail, purportedly from the Transport department, calling for Request for Proposals.
The businessman, who wanted to remain anonymous, said he was told to submit quotes to supply and deliver specialised batteries to the department’s Pretoria office.
“I was on a business trip out of the country when I received that e-mail. We had to make plans to get the money to pay for the batteries. They even gave me an order number and I believed them,” he said.
He was told to make an upfront payment before the specialised batteries would be delivered.
“After we paid the money we waited for the delivery but nothing came, and when we asked the department they knew nothing about that,” said the businessman.
He reported the matter to the police in Pretoria.
“I was told that I am not the only one and the departments are now issuing scam alerts to warn people of these people. I admit that I was stupid.”
The State Security Agency has expressed their concern over the trend and the National Treasury has posted a warning on its website. The warning notes that a number of companies have lost tens of thousands of rands due to fraudulent claims supposedly made on behalf of government departments.
Last year, the health department alerted the relevant law enforcement authorities to investigate a scam where their letterheads were used to defraud unsuspecting businesspeople.
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman Khusela Sangoni-Diko, says that the president has no knowledge of the scam.
“This is clearly a scam. When the matter was reported to our officials, they advised Mr Nkosi that it was a scam. Further, the presidency officials also reported this to our internal security as well as the SSA to conduct an investigation,” said Diko.
Diko said they were aware of a number of fake accounts, particularly on social media platforms, that claim to belong to the president.
“It is said that these accounts employ similar methods and attempt to siphon people out of their hard-earned monies. We urge members of the public to disregard any communication purporting to be from the president on such platforms and always treat with circumspect any requests for monies received via these platforms … the President does not canvass any monies or investment in the manner reported,” said Diko.
The lesson here is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
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