Carina Vermeulen, whose Johannesburg-based procurement and freight forwarding company, Apoloco, fell victim to the scam, has dedicated her time to stopping it– and many have been saved.
She told The Zimbabwean how it works: “The Zimbabwean guy contacts a Johannesburg-based company asking if they can source certain products on their behalf. They then send you the email with the product and part number, with a story that their previous supplier in Botswana is taking too long and that their current price for the product is $900 per unit and they require 100 units.
“When you search the product and part number on the internet, only one Cape Town-based company comes up with the product. You then receive a quote from the supplier for R5 000 per unit. The company sends a quote with a non-return policy and requests that the full amount is paid before the products are sent.
“The Johannesburg company pays the R500 000 to them. But when you phone the Zimbabwean company to collect their cargo, they keep stalling until your non return policy expires. Both companies change their names and the products so that you cannot track and they both have valid websites, business registrations and contact details. The only things that stay the same are the contacts and the individuals’ names.”
South African police said they were aware of the scam, one of many they are trying to crack and advised companies and individuals against rushing into doing online business deals with companies they were not certain about.
“We have arrested some people over this, but the crime just does not end because there are a number of syndicates involved and most of them use internet cafes to push their agendas. It therefore, becomes a bit difficult to trace them,” said a police spokesman.Post published in: Africa News