Ekurhuleni warns of wheelie bin scam

A new scam is hitting wheelie bin suppliers in the Ekurhuleni area.

According to the Springs Advertiser an email is being sent to people who the scammers think may supply wheelie bins claiming to be an order for bins from the municipality, complete with a fake order number.

The suppliers are asked to deposit a certain amount of money in the supplied bank account, and deliver the bins to 47 Van Buuren Road in Bedfordview.

The municipality has responded to the scam by pointing out that it doesn’t deal with bins that size.

“This is a scam and the city distances itself from it, an investigation is currently ongoing to establish if there is any involvement of the metro’s officials in this scam,” The municipality told the Springs Advertiser.

In April the Daily Dispatch ran a story about a slightly more tricky version of this same scam.

The scammers would contact people in the name of the Minister of the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), Gugile Nkwinti, and claim to be setting up a tender for certain supplies needed by the department.

The scammers would phone people up and “place an order”. The thing is the stuff being ordered was only supplied by one company in Cape Town – so the people who got this fake “tender” would have to buy it there.

Of course this company is fake, so the scammers got the money and the people being scammed got nothing.

My Take

One of the things that boils my blood is generally this sort of thing, because it is part of the economic cycle.

If you look at bull and bear markets – during a bull market everybody is making money so nobody cares too much about money being stolen or scammed, because you can take a certain amount of losses if you’re making money. This is why when a business cuts costs it means it has hit hard times.

Eventually however the degree of scamming reaches critical mass, and the market collapses. The Sub-prime mortgage crisis was essentially what happened when there were just too many bad loans, the dot com crash was basically a bunch of fake websites, and so it goes back through history.

One of the things I disliked about Hilary Clinton’s campaign in America was that her plan for dealing with student debt was to defer loans to students who had tech start-ups. This would have inflated a bubble very similar to the dot com crisis because it would encourage a whole load of phony start-ups.

When you get a bear market scams which have been going on for decades will suddenly start hitting the headlines.

In 1999 Harry Markopolis pointed out that Bernie Madoff’s returns were mathematically impossible, but Madoff was only arrested in late 2008 – after the start of the great recession.

What I’m getting at here is that this is the sort of stuff that collapses economies, even the world economy, if left unchecked.

Now for a lot of us we look at this and we think, “Hang on one minute, you know if you’re a government supplier, you have contracts with the government in which you got into a tender process and won.”

We also tend to think, “Well, if I’m getting a job or providing goods or suchlike, they should be paying me.”

We can think that, but everybody is vulnerable to some sort of scam or other, and there is a need in South Africa to fight fraud.

As much as we may hope people protect themselves, we need to protect each other or we’ll end up with our economy in a wheelie bin. Well, okay it might already be there but we can maybe save it from getting all the way to the dump?

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