Con artists have upped their efforts to lure people into scams involving "investments" of thousands of rands, but an understaffed police force has called on the public to put their claims forward.
"Those who have lost money have reported their cases to the commercial crime unit in Johannesburg. Now police are also appealing to anyone who might have lost money to these fraudulent scams to come forward," said the South African Police Service yesterday.
Superintendent Lungelo Dlamini said that people had lost more than R15million in more than 17 pyramid schemes. But these were only the reported cases.
Several investment scams that are being investigated include Six 23 Networks, Eagle Forex, Wealth 4 U , Julfin Marketing, Silverton Assets, Organic Fire and Supper Ridge Carriers.
With some of these companies being registered companies it is difficult for consumers to distinguish between pyramid schemes and legitimate multi-level marketing
Trade and Industry Department consumer protection chief director Karin Coode said that though pyramid schemes and other unfair business practices were criminal offences, the police were overworked focusing on violent and organised crime.
"Police are so bogged down with cases involving violent behaviour that they can't attend to the cases involving pyramid schemes effectively," she said.
"The best recourse is consumer education," Coode said.