BETHAL – Residents from Gert Sibande District Municipality were left empty handed after a Ponzi scheme called City Financial Trading looted them money.
The fake business had offices in Bethal and Ermelo.
According to some of the bogus scheme employees in Bethal offices, the operators opened their office around
August this year and put in notices that they are looking for business marketers.
The first few young women who responded were immediately hired without undergoing interviews or signing contracts.
They were given a task of looking for investors.
According to the pamphlets, people get double of what they invested.
The first group of people who invested did receive the promised monies, but were persuaded to reinvest again.
The operators were said to have had a small office inside the building where employees were not allowed to enter, in both Ermelo and Bethal offices.
Employees and investors were also strictly prohibited to use cellphones inside the offices.
During the first week of November people were persuaded to go and withdraw all their monies from the banks and those with stokvels were also urged to invest their monies so that they are able to get more money for Black Friday.
The operators were said to have parked their vehicles in hiding places all the time.
On Thursday, 8 November was supposed to be the day for some of the investors to get their monies in both Ermelo
and Bethal offices.
To their surprise, they were greeted by chained doors and everything inside the shop was cleared.
Investors started to pile up in front of the offices and when they contacted Ermelo investors, they were informed
of the same fate of locked doors and empty offices.
Frustrated investors turned to the police for help.
According to Bethal investors, Bethal police began by refusing to open a case citing reasons that they invested money at
their own risk.
They finally managed to get assistance and a case was opened.
None of the employees knew the real names of the operators and the only clue was the number plates of the vehicles
they used.
During the investigations, it was found that the number plate on their vehicles did not match the description of vehicles and there is a possibility that they were cloned.
The receipt received when they invested money had a company registration number which does not match the names
of the company, but shows a forex trading company and the owner is based in Kwazulu Natal.
Money was deposited as cash inside the office, no bank accounts or electronic transfers were allowed.
The scheme was said to have robbed ordinary people, police, nurses, some of GMM councillors and MMCs, teachers, pastors and stokvels.
One woman collapsed after she lost the stokvel money that she invested without informing other members.
One traffic cop lost R100 000.
Bethal police referred the case to the Mpumalanga Special Investigation Unit due to the number of victims and the
amount was above R800 000, while more victims were still opening cases.