Nine suspects have been arrested after being linked to a multi-million Rand scam that defrauded small businesses.
The suspects allegedly posed as government agency employees when asking for the supply of goods.
The syndicate members were arrested in a sting operation by the SAP Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks) in a Sandton house on Tuesday this week, 1 September 2015. The suspects comprise five men and women who are Ugandans, Malawian and a South African.
Their illegal operations cut across government departments including the Department of Water and Sanitation. The latter department said in the past year alone at least 12 small business people had complained after they were duped by the syndicate into parting with millions of Rands. “The syndicate opened fake bank accounts that would be closed as soon as their victims had deposited full amounts into the accounts,” the department said.
The suspects placed a newspaper advert to supply the department with orange SC-90 Covers that are 300mm long and 300mm wide. Although the advert carries the department’s letterhead, the telephone and fax numbers do not belong to the department and the person named for enquiries, NP Mthethwa, does not work for the department.
On closer scrutiny, some of the telephone and cellphone numbers in the advert were found to belong to cars that had been installed with mobile phones. Physical addresses were normally fake or the culprits moved as soon as they had received full payment for the goods.
The department welcomed the arrests and appealed to business people who fell victim to the scam to co-operate with investigators to ensure the conviction of the suspects. Victims can contact the Hawks office on 011 870 5300.
(Edited by St Francis Chronicle)