Pretoria – The new wave of WhatsApp scam in South Africa is already causing a steer. The scam works exactly like the WhatsApp Stokvel that left many jilted years ago. The scheme is back and is now called WhatsApp gifting but uses the same Ponzi scheme formula.
People are recruited to join a WhatsApp group (using a WhatsApp chat group) by paying a joining fee. So, in order to be added to the group, you have to pay up. The average joining fee is R100, with the promise of around R1 000 return if you recruit two people into the group.
It works like a pyramid scheme, where participants earn money by finding new participants. Another name for a pyramid scheme is a Ponzi scheme. Pyramid or Ponzi schemes work by recruiting investors, who in turn get promised payment or returns if they recruit more people.
The reality is that the person at the top of the scheme collects all the money, and those being recruited further down rarely benefit at all, if any, of what was promised to them. The first few people to join or invest reap the rewards and the rest, typically, lose money. In South Africa, these types of schemes are illegal and you should avoid them, as your money is not secure with them.
Mathamela Nobusi, Collen, Thandeka, and Siya sent a detailed mail to our editors’ desk on how they collectively lost 9,000 rands to the scheme that collapsed on the 28th of this month in a WhatsApp group called WhatsApp gifting Atteridgeville.
“Nobusi recruited me for the WhatsApp Stokvel,” says Siya, I paid the joining fee of R100 and had to recruit two people – which I did (Collen and Thandeka) – in order to receive the R1 000. But I never received any money. I kept seeing screenshots of proof of payments were being shared in the WhatsApp group, suddenly I was blocked, I was very furious and went to Nobusi, only to realise she was also blocked out of the group as well.
So we went to a member of the group, we realised only 8 people were left in the group, and two of the members were Collen and Thandeka and Collen had become the admin. We were all ashamed of what we had recruited people into”
We have opened up a case and submitted all screenshots, audios and images we have so that the fraud unit of the SAPS can carry out a full investigation and persecute those involved in this crime.
We spoke to the crimes unit of the SAPS about the cases submitted and they confirmed that there are already 8 cases of WhatsApp gifting that are reported. They also confirmed that operating such schemes are criminal offences, as it is a fraudulent exercise.
FCSA also confirms that anyone trading in any financial instruments needs to be registered and have a licence to trade as an accredited financial service provider or would be committing an offence and breaking the law. On that stance can be prosecuted and sentenced.
A video circulated about the scam: