Bail denied government 'fraudsters'

Alfred Moselakgomo

Alfred Moselakgomo

The Pretoria regional court yesterday refused to grant bail to six men accused of defrauding suppliers of equipment to the Agricultural Department.

Department spokesman Steve Galane said the men were arrested by the Scorpions following the uncovering of a syndicate which has been defrauding suppliers for the past five years.

The amount of money involved is said to run into millions of rands.

"The syndicate seems to be operating in various areas around the country and makes use of fraudulently-generated supply orders, using the name of the department," said Galane.

He said the syndicate's modus operandi was not always the same. "Our suppliers were contacted for quotations for the delivery of tangible items such as toner cartridges, computers, laptops, etc. They were then contacted and issued with a fraudulent order for the delivery of the above-mentioned items.

"The syndicate will contact regional offices of the department under the pretext that they are officials from headquarters in Pretoria.

"They requested officials in the regional offices to accept the goods that were fraudulently ordered from suppliers, with the understanding that the goods will be distributed in the relevant province," Galane said.

"The syndicate will then normally arrange that a courier service pick up the goods whilst the supplier is under the impression that the goods have been delivered at the offices of the department."

He said another scheme that is currently being used by the fraudsters involved fraudulent cheques being paid into the accounts of suppliers.

"Suppliers are then informed by means of a fraudulent letterhead of the department that the payment made into their bank accounts was meant for another supplier or institution.

"Suppliers are then requested to electronically transfer the amount back into their (fraudsters) bank account," Galane said.