By Bombi Mavundza for Business Insider SA
Despite the name change, the ‘stokvel’ still has the same modus operandi. Members deposit R200 – and hope to make huge profits.
The National Stokvel Association of SA (Nasasa) has previously warned South Africans that WhatsApp stokvels are most likely to be pyramid schemes rather than genuine savings vehicles – and those who have joined them have probably been scammed.
Like most pyramid schemes, the first few to join received a pay-out, but those who followed often lost all their money.
Many victims who have joined such stokvels in the past have seen group administrators disappear after making payments into the stokvels.
According to Nasasa founder and chairperson of Nasasa, Andrew Lukhele, scammers were using the popularity of stokvels to create pyramid schemes and take advantage of people.
Traditional stokvels are based on trust where everyone in the stokvel knows each other, and the terms of payout have already been set.
The Whatsapp scams often involves anonymous people, so it is impossible to track or trace the money when it disappears.
A stokvel, derived from “stock fair”, is a savings scheme where a group of people come together to save or increasing invest together.
The National Stokvel Association of South Africa (Nasasa) is warning South Africans about WhatsApp stokvel scams which are targeting victims through social media.
These WhatsApp stokvels catch unsuspecting victims by promising them a large return on investment in a short period of time.
For a R200 upfront investment the scammers promise that people will be paid R1,200 if their recruit more people into the scheme.
Participants said that as soon as they paid their money to the “WhatsApp stokvel”, the rest of the members disappeared.
Andrew Lukhele, founder and chairperson of Nasasa, warned that these WhatsApp stokvels are pyramid schemes.
As it is a pyramid scheme, only a few people who form part of the stokvel will get paid out. The rest will lose their money.
Lukhele warned that criminals are using the popularity of stokvels to promote their scams.
The SA Police Service (SAPS) has also warned South Africans about these scams, saying that members of cash savings clubs (stokvels) must be cautious.
The SAPS said it has received multiple complaints from people who were scammed by criminals through a WhatsApp stokvel.
The police have asked the victims of the scams, or those who have knowledge about them, to contact the SAPS Crime Stop helpline on 0860 010 111.