MyBroadband recently reported that a free local proxy service was launched in South Africa, offering local ADSL users a gateway to access international content by using local bandwidth. Questions have been raised about the funding of the service and whether the owner has a sustainable business model, but the owner, who identified himself as Zaine Lourens, said that the service is currently self-funded but stated that it is here to stay.
“So far the service has been active for two months whereas previous users who tried only lasted a few weeks,” said Zaine. “I am to keep the service up until date pricing starts to drop and it becomes affordable to all users.” Zaine also said he is planning to generate advertising revenue on the website by “adding local companies’ banners” and added that they may receive a sponsorship for full server racks.
Information has emerged that ZA-Portal may have used fraudulent information to purchase hosting services, which is a possible explanation for why a free proxy service could be offered.
Local hosting company Elitehost said that the “ZAPortal Fraudster” had purchase hosting services from the company using fraudulent credit card details. MyBroadband was furnished with two authorized credit card transactions where ZA Portal allegedly used fraudulent credit cards from City Bank, Dakota and NBMA America Bank.
Previous ZA Portal host, Hetzner, said that the owner of the website used their hosting services to run proxy services, but that the owner did not pay Hetzner for these services. Hetzner added that all the information supplied by the owner was fraudulent. Hetzner has discontinued all ZA Portal services.
Another well known hosting provider Afrihost said they were also on the receiving end of fraudulent activity from Zaine Lourens. According to Afrihost, Lourens ordered three ADSL accounts and three hosting services, paying with a debit order using fraudulent account details. Afrihost further said that Lourens has been reported to the police.
Elitehost felt that users should be warned about the free ZA-Portal proxy service, and said that the website owner may well use the service to capture sensitive personal information like credit card details or passwords.
ZA Portal owner Zaine Lourens said that the person in charge of his finances, James Rourke, was responsible for the billing information passed on to the hosting providers. “James is my billing’s person he passed all information from the proxy towards me and I just helped users to set it up and to get things working the best I could,” Lourens explained in response to questions from MyBroadband.
“I do not think anyone will trust in my words since James caused quite a lot of damage by the sounds of things, so I can not blame anyone for being angry and doing certain things towards me but I advise them to please understand that if I knew such events was going on I would not have opened the service in the first place and James would not even be considered a partner for anything,” Lourens said.
ZA-Portal fraud allegations – comments and views