Govt clients warned about scam at last
FINALLY the government is doing something to minimise the damage to its suppliers who have become victims of fraud since 2010.
Eight government departments have been used to scam government clients.
An urgent notice has been issued, warning people to be on the lookout for the fraudsters.
The Department of Water Affairs placed an advert in Sowetan last Thursday warning all small businesspeople who are registered on the departmental database and on the databases of government departments to be on the lookout for fake orders.
The warnings urge small businesses to verify orders with the Department of Water Affairs before delivering goods by first calling the department.
It further carries a disclaimer exonerating itself from liability for any deliveries that have been made on a fraudulent basis.
This follows a series of articles in Sowetan exposing how the government's tender database system, in which confidential information of unsuspecting small businesses is stored, was unlawfully accessed for fraudulent purposes.
Nceba Luzipho was the first person to tell Sowetan about the scam.
Luzipho says he survived the scam, but a number of other small businesspeople were defrauded by unscrupulous syndicates who masqueraded as government officials.
He says they lured unsuspecting suppliers with fake tenders and then told them to deliver the goods to fake addresses.
Luzipho was battling to recover his money from Vodacom and Eastgate iStore in Gauteng, that were not prepared to refund his money. He had bought iPads and iPhones under the impression that he had been awarded a government tender . He later discovered that he was a victim of fraud.
Luzipho was given a refund of R210000 last week after Sowetan intervened.
We also reported that the scam had cost its victims R5-million since 2010.
Several victims were previously asked to deliver iPads and other appliances by crooks using the same modus operandi.
The health department had also been duped in this way.
Sowetan has seen a consolidated report on a fraudulent order by the Department of Public Works, which states that fraudsters would have enriched themselves by R12-million had the fraud awareness and investigation unit and security management services not intervened.
The report also states that the report on fraudulent activities has been presented to the Government Executive Committee (Exco) at previous meetings in which resolutions were taken on how to avert further fraud.
Among other measures the Exco resolved to engage other government departments, the National Treasury and the South African Police Service, to launch an extensive campaign.
Vishnu Naidoo, national spokesman for the South African Police Service, confirms that the SAPS has not warned the public about the tender scam, though they had previously issued press releases notifying people about various scams.
The Department of Public Works says it has communicated with suppliers, warning them about the scam.
It has also conducted workshops at all its regional offices and put up posters warning people about the scam.
The department says it is also working closely with the commercial crime units of SAPS and the Hawks in the Pretoria region.