A South African teacher is fighting back after losing R4 million in an Internet scam, which started in June when she tried to read an article about president Cyril Ramaphosa trying to cover up something.
A Netwerk24 report explained that to read this article, Marile Coetzee from Thabazimbi was asked to provide her name, mobile number and email address to read this article.
Soon after she provided these details, she was contacted to invest money at a high interest rate in WiseBanc.
Coetzee, who owns a small school which is struggling financially, said the offer sounded very attractive and she decided to invest a small amount.
The WiseBanc representatives promised her that she could withdraw the money at any stage, and asked her to invest more money to buy Bitcoin, Facebook shares, gold, and other commodities.
As she invested more money her account value grew, but when she tried to withdraw some of the money (her account balance showed as $274,577.38) the trouble started.
She was told she had to invest at least R1 million extra to activate the withdrawal of funds, and she then borrowed R2 million from a friend and deposited this amount in the account.
After this large deposit, the WiseBanc representative went quiet and she realised she had been scammed.
Coetzee approached the police, the Hawks, and the Financial Intelligence Centre, but they were not keen to assist.
She then appointed a private investigator from the United States who helped her to locate the money.
Her money was transferred to a Nedbank account, and her lawyer was able to get an urgent court application to freeze this account until Coetzee’s case was heard.
She said after their account was frozen, she was offered a settlement of lower than R3.9 million by the people behind the scam.
She declined this offer, and is continuing the legal battle to get all of her money back.
There are many online warnings about WiseBanc, which describes itself as a Forex trading platform.
The company is allegedly based in Bulgaria and has branches in Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom said it “believes this firm has been providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation”.
“Find out why to be especially wary of dealing with this unauthorised firm and how to protect yourself from scammers,” the FCA said.
Scam warnings online
One commentator warned that WiseBanc was a participant in the scam involving a fake CNN web page.
This “article” announced that Elon Musk was leaving Tesla to concentrate on a wealth redistribution scheme via a phony Bitcoin tech startup.
A full description of the company and the scamming modus operandi is provided here: WiseBanc Scam/Toro Media scam