Pretoria: Various businesses have saved thousands of rands because they heeded a call by the Department of Public Works to always verify orders received from fraudsters posing as department officials.
The department has been warning the public about a scam targeting both big and small companies which involves scammers using false addresses and posing as departmental employees, offering companies “tenders”.
A Free State businessman and Director of Hygien Outright almost fell victim to the scam by a fraudster using fake Department of Public Works documents. He evaded the scam that would have cost him R800 000 worth of goods by contacting the department to verify the validity of the order.
New Holland, a national tractor-distribution company, was almost a victim of the scam. They believed the tender was legitimate after receiving an email invitation to tender.
The fraudsters sent a quotation via e-mail after they “won the tender” to deliver more than five tractors to a false departmental address in Rustenburg.
Another company that survived the scam is a KwaZulu-Natal-based company, TCM Forklift Company. The company insisted on a pre- payment before delivery but the scammer had offered to pay after the deliveries were made.
After getting suspicious about the request to deliver goods first, TCM Forklift Management decided to google the name of the “official”. They then picked up discrepancy in the contact details that were provided in the email offer for the tender.
They called the number that was on google and came through to the correct official who then informed them that it was a scam. Once again the alertness of the company proved decisive in foiling a scam worth more than R130 196.
However, a computer company delivered R18 million worth of laptops and computers to a false departmental address in Mpumalanga. No payment was transferred to them.
The department said one suspect has been arrested and he is on trial facing charges of fraud.
“The modus operandi is almost the same in all cases. The fraudsters mask themselves as people who are employees of DPW, but they bear names of former or current employees in the department, with different contact details under false identity and address as DPW officials.
“They target enterprises and call them with a claim that the “department has awarded them contracts,” said the department.
It explained that they operate by faxing forged DPW Order Forms to businesses that are targeted and ask them to deliver goods to certain addresses. However, no amount due to the supplier is paid.
According to the department, the scam is being carried out by a syndicate of sophisticated fraudsters who are being sought after.
Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West provinces are the most frequently targeted provinces. Businesses that deal with stock of computers, office items such as printers and toner cartridges, television sets and cell-phones are their most targets.
These fraudsters also request the company to provide them with these documents, company registration certificates, certified identity documents of directors, fingerprints of directors and tax clearance certificate.
“The department would like to emphasize that the public must be extremely vigilant. When in any doubt, they should verify all relevant details with the Department on these numbers: 012 406 1463/ 2046/ 1439.
“We cannot over-emphasize that suppliers should not deliver their goods on the basis of orders sent by so-called DPW officials. We have clear procurement processes that are transparent and professional. We deal with suppliers on our database only,” the department said.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS